Gun violence ends with focus on youth, community says

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SULFUR SPRINGS, Fla. — According to the Tampa Police Department, violent crime is trending down.

“In January alone, we had 15 fewer shootings than last year,” said acting police chief Ruben Delgado.

But even though the numbers are trending down, police and the community say the numbers are still too high.

“What Tampa suffers from is that there are too many guns in the wrong hands,” said a Sulfur Springs woman.

To help brainstorm solutions, particularly to gun violence, police and the community came together on Monday to discuss.

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“As the mother of a deceased victim, they need to stop,” LaMaria Smith said.

Smith’s daughter was shot and killed while driving late last year. And she says the fight against violence starts with parents.

“You know the police can’t be in every place every time, but you can control how your child acts in the community by raising them at home,” she said.

Russell Porter works with youth at AMIkids in Tampa. He agreed that the focus should be on the next generation.

“I’m trying to teach them, with their mindset, to be more aware of what’s going on in the community, what’s going on in their daily lives, and to be able to open up and talk more,” said he declared.

While others agreed that this goal was important, some also called for more partnership between the police and the public.

“If you want to reach a community, you have to build trust. Trust starts with communication,” said one Sulfur Springs resident.

And at the end, there was also a call for more surveillance to help catch those who pull the trigger.

“I just wanted to know if we can push through more laws where these clubs and establishments where these kids are staying are more supervised,” said one resident.

Monday’s meeting was the second in a series of community forums hosted by the Tampa Police Department and the “Rise Up for Peace” group.

The time and date of the next forum have not yet been announced.

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