06/08/17 — Residents focus on reducing violence

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Residents focus on reducing violence

By Rochelle Moore
Published in News on June 8, 2017 6:57 AM

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Mayor Chuck Allen, left, addresses the recent murders and gun violence in Goldsboro during Monday night's meeting. Allen asked that anyone with ideas of how to reach youth who are in danger of going down the wrong path to speak up. Police Chief Mike West also spoke, asking for assistance from people who may have information about the unsolved crimes.

Goldsboro leaders thanked residents Monday night for stepping forward and offering solutions to reduce violent crime in the city.

Mark Colebrook, with Operation Unite Goldsboro, suggested several possibilities, including a teen curfew during the summer, midnight basketball and a city of New Orleans program that has reduced gang activity.

"Since 2011, (there has been a) 55 percent reduction in gang-member involved murders," Colebrook told the Goldsboro City Council.

The reduction in New Orleans killings resulted after the city started its program that has resulted in engaging more than 10,000 people to nine seasons of midnight basketball.

The program has also connected people to jobs, job training and other opportunities, including mentorship, noted as being a prevention investment in New Orleans.

Colebrook provided the council with documents detailing the program, as well as other materials about other cities, including Odessa, Texas, and Kansas City, where teen curfews were used to help reduce crime, Colebrook said.

"It may not eliminate it, but it's a start," Colebrook said. "These are all just suggestions to try to help and to stave off what's been going on in our city."

Colebrook said this year's killings are following a similar trend as 2016 when several shooting deaths took place in July.

"We just had one recent shooting, so we want to make sure that we can put things in place to help that," he said.

Councilman Bill Broadaway spoke well of the suggestion to implement a curfew.

"There's nothing wrong with a curfew," Broadaway said. "Those are solutions. If they come from the community, they're a lot more palatable than if they come from us."

Mayor Chuck Allen asked for more ideas to help reduce gang activity and crime.

"We've got to figure out some way, somehow to get these guys off the street," Allen said. "The city can put whatever resources we can put, but we've got to know what to do. The police department's not going to solve it. The city council's not going to solve it. The community's going to solve it.

"I'm pleading with every one of you, anything you can do to help us, then we need to do that."

Councilman Antonio Williams thanked residents for reaching out to the families of the recent shooting victims.

Ernest Boney, owner of Da Wash on North William Street, and friend Darrick Smith washed cars over the weekend to help the family of Desconte Bryant, 18, who was fatally shot on May 28. Car wash proceeds and donations were raised to help pay for funeral expenses.

"I hope that everyone in this community can continue to try to work on some of this violence," Williams said. "If you see a young man or a young woman, talk to them and give them and opportunity to learn from us."

Goldsboro Police Chief Mike West asked for help in solving and preventing crime.

"Ten months ago on the steps of City Hall, I made the following comments, 'Law enforcement cannot solve or prevent these crimes alone,'" West said. "'It's going to take the entire community, along with law enforcement, to make our city safe.'"

"It's a partnership, and that is still true today."

West said more community and neighborhood events are planned to better connect officers, elected officials and local organizations with residents.

Anyone with information regarding homicides in the city or information that could prevent a crime can call his office directly at 919-580-4231, or Goldsboro Wayne Crime Stoppers at 919-735-2255, West said.