Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence

There was a town hall meeting at Sinclair Community College on Saturday morning. It was to discuss a program called "The Community Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence." It will hold members of a "group" accountable for any gun related crime that results in the death of an individual. The idea is that peer pressure can be neutralized when an individual says "I was thinking of shooting "so and so" but I don't want all of you (friends) to go to jail if I do" to his or her friends that coax them into action.

I know first hand how this works. I had a fight with a boy in school when I was 16 or so that was a knock down, drag out fight that lasted forever during a break. Nobody really won but the whole thing occurred because one or two individuals were badgering both of us to have a fight and instigating the event to occur. In government such people are called "Agent provocateurs".

There were around 150 people in attendance at this meeting. I was disappointed to notice that our mayor arrived late and missed her scheduled spot on the agenda. I applaud the police chief for initiating such a program which includes involvement from the city of Trotwood as well as Montgomery County and some prominent ministers and non-profits in the community. I applaud the people who attended and have committed to making the program a success. Some of the stories that were revealed and statements that were made were truly moving. I only hope the burden does not completely fall on the shoulders of the community to make the program work. In order for our police officers to gain the trust of certain communities, they must walk those communities and have everyday conversations with the residents. They need to spend a few minutes shooting hoops with the teenage boys at the local park. Talk to the young girls about their dreams and aspirations for when they grow up. They need to become mentors for pre-teen youth. Most of all, they have to be dedicated to doing this every day for the rest of their careers if they want to see real change. If the city manager says we can not afford to do this, I would argue that we can't afford NOT to do it. The results will be justified when half of every class in our police academy consists of young, dedicated members of Dayton's African-American community.

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