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Gainesville Police Chief presents plan to reduce gun violence

Published: Aug. 19, 2021 at 5:18 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) -Gun violence has grown over the past couple of months in Gainesville— marked by drive-by shootings, stolen guns and murder victims as young as 13 years old.

This year as of Aug. 5, Gainesville police have received more than 250 calls for shots fired within the city. Of that amount, 35 people have been injured and four have died.

RELATED STORY: Community leaders address gun violence targeting Gainesville youth ahead of school year

“And if those individuals engage in violent activity, they will be arrested,” said Gainesville Police Chief Tony Jones. “They will be taken into custody. Period.”

Chief Jones outlined a three-part initiative: prevention, intervention and suppression. These initiatives include a gun buyback program, community policing, violence interruption program and focused engagement in high-crime neighborhoods.

“Some of the gun violence, domestic violence, gang-related crimes and narcotics trafficking while they’re assigned on this particular detail,” added Jones. “These are the things that neighbors have told us that we need to be looking out for when we come into their neighborhoods. But those who want to continue to engage in this, your time is limited.”

RELATED STORY: “If you see something, say something”; Chief Jones, Gainesville city officials address concerns of recent gun violence

Chief Jones mentioned his three-part plan doesn’t work without community input. A Gainesville resident who only wanted to be called Hillary said parents play a crucial role in reducing gun violence.

“Yesterday, marked a month that we lost Tariq Simmons,” said Hillary. She also said she was a second mother to Simmons. Simmons died after a drive-by shooting mid-July outside of the Eighth Avenue food store but said Simmons was a hard worker who loved his family. A second drive-by in early August in the Woodland Park area happened at Hillary’s son’s birthday party.

“I don’t care how you want to look at it,” added Hillary. “It starts at home and I really need y’all to look into your home. Don’t look out at what your children are out doing, look into your home and see what’s going wrong there. That’s where it starts.”

A similar message came from Chief Jones to hold parents accountable as his staff start training on their new protocols this weekend.

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