Gainesville leaders host another meeting to find solution to gun violence
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - There is no silver bullet to put an end to gun violence, which seems to be the consensus following another gun violence meeting in Alachua County on Wednesday.
Latonia Burkett lost her 16-year-old son, Stoney Shine, to a park shooting in Alachua. She and those who called into the meeting want to see more programs for young people.
“I would never want another mother to feel the way I feel,” Shine said. “I just expect to hear that phone call from Stoney.”
Gainesville City Commissioner Desmon Duncan-Walker organized the meeting with Gainesville, Alachua and High Springs police chiefs to answer those questions and explain opportunities for kids.
Gainesville Chief Tony Jones said his “One Community” plan is making some improvements.
“Particularly with shots fired in neighborhoods, we’re seeing less of those,” Jones said.
One caller was concerned that gun buyback programs don’t work and he said that’s true when done without other programs.
“If you do gun buybacks with a combination of things that what we’re discussing like “One Community”, it is having an impact nationwide,” Jones said.
Manager of GPD’s Violence Interrupters program Caleb Young said getting out in the community makes the difference.
“We often say that we can’t arrest our way out of a problem but I’m here to say you can communicate your way out of a problem so establishing that line of communication is key and we’ve been able to do that thus far,” Young explained.
“A lot of these males are missing males figures in their lives, maybe to come up with more mentor programs,” Burkett said.
A new youth service division of the city will bring transportation for children to get to programs like the YMCA and give small youth organizations more exposure.
The Big Brother, Big Sisters mentorship program is making a return in the near future.
“Not only is it going to require the efforts of the faith based community but it’s also going to require the efforts of our community organizations,” Duncan-Walker said.
Burkett’s has a message to young people.
“There’s so much better than that and your worth so much more than this violence,” Brukett added.
All three police chiefs at this meeting also stressed how important it is to keep your guns in a safe and out of your cars as this is how many young people are getting these weapons.
GPD is hosting a gun buyback program on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 1000 NE 14th St. For more information, click here.
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