MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Many in the community are tackling the issue of youth violence. The city is also developing new ways to bring an end to gun violence.
They’ve hired a youth violence prevention coordinator, who held his first event in the city Wednesday afternoon
Dozens of city employees, community activists, and concerned citizens gathered at Unity Point Park, near downtown Mobile, to share their messages about how gun violence has impacted their lives and the city on signs placed around the park.
This is as Joshua Jones, the city’s new youth violence prevention coordinator began to share his goals to get through to the teens in the city and bring a positive influence to their lives.
“If they can view us as an equal, I feel like we then have an opportunity to speak to them in a way that we wouldn’t normally be able to speak with them in any other way,” said Jones.
Violence among teens in Mobile has increased, causing concern for many.
“I’m doing flowers, particularly for our youth, young people who have not even begun to live their lives yet. It’s very heartbreaking,” said Patricia Law, who is a community advocate with the organization, W.O.M.B., which stands for Women Overcoming Many Barriers.
Jones’s position as the youth violence prevention coordinator is part of the city’s efforts to reduce gun violence. It is part of Operation Echo Stop, which launched earlier this year. There are four prongs of the operation: prevention, deterrence, compliance, and detection.
“It’s a four corner approach, but each corner is integral in accomplishing the overall mission,” said Jones.
Jones was a member of the Mobile Police Department, he also served in the military, and was a member of the Secret Service.
He says to make a change with youth violence, it takes everyone. And that this is near and dear to his heart.
“The people I care about live in this community. So I don’t want them to feel they can’t walk outside their door because they’re afraid somebody is going to ride by and pull the trigger. I can’t live with myself, I refuse to live with myself without taking the necessary steps and actions that could prevent that. That’s why I’m here,” said Jones.
Jones said he wants to hear the issues, pain and give teens and their parents a safe space to share their issues to in turn give them resources on how to deal with those issues.