Crime prevention remains at the forefront of the community”s concern today as the kids speak up and the adults continue to work behind the scenes.
This morning at Lee Middle School, the Stop the Violence Youth Summit asked middle schoolers and high schoolers to weigh in on the problems facing the community in the wake of two shooting deaths since April. A panel including city officials including Columbus Police Chief Joe St. John, Mayor Robert Smith, Ward 5 Councilman Kabir Karriem, and community leaders such as Pastor R.J. Matthews of Kingdom Vision International Church, and students from Noxubee County, West Point and Columbus were on hand to answer questions and offer solutions.
A community meeting on crime prevention last Thursday will continue its work at 6 p.m. June 28 at the Columbus Public Library.
A task force of 26 individuals who signed up at Thursday”s meeting, plus 14 members of Lowndes County District 5 Supervisor Leroy Brooks” leadership class, will discuss how it will approach crime prevention and how to raise funds to bring a community crime prevention expert to Columbus.
Karriem, who will participate on the task force, says the meeting remains open to the public and anyone can sign on to the task force.
“We don”t want anybody to feel like they”re being left out or not being invited,” said Karriem. “We do need the business community. We need elected officials. We need grassroots support. We need neighbors looking out for neighbors. We need everybody.”
Brooks, who helped organize the initial meeting, plans to remove himself from the task force to focus on another community project, but he”ll continue to function as a liaison between the group and Daniel Kellar, executive director of the American Crime Prevention Institute in Louisville, Ky. About $4,000 is needed to bring Kellar to Columbus for a three-day seminar.
In the meantime, the task force will appoint chairpersons and break into groups to address specific aspects of crime. For instance, Mississippi University for Women Police Chief Kennedy Meaders has an expertise in gang activity. Karriem says using surveys to gather further public opinion is still in the plans.
The Columbus Chapter of the National Action Network will also hold its third annual Stop the Violence and Promote the Peace Rally June 26 from 4-8 p.m. at Propst Park.
An e-mail from the National Action Network says the rally will focus on parenting as crime prevention, but speakers will address a number of topics including education, health and unity.
Jason Browne was previously a reporter for The Dispatch.
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