Could More Police Presence be the Answer?

By Rachel Martin

April 1, 2013 Updated Apr 2, 2013 at 9:49 AM EST

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (www.incnow.tv) – With gun violence increasing could more police presence in neighborhoods be a considerable option for the community?

Two people are dead after five shootings this weekend. Although the community has been calling for peace in the streets, it seems things are only getting worse.

Fort Wayne Urban League President, Jonathan Ray, says he's held multiple community meetings with other city leaders on how to end the violence. He believes they've come up with some possible solutions and not a moment too soon.

One proposed solution could be building a building a better community relationship with law enforcement, something Ray says is strained.

“There is a chasm. There is a misunderstanding. That needs to be broached and eliminated. I think law enforcement as well as the community will be in a better position,” he said, “If they can have one [a relationship] by relating differently to the community with law enforcement, I’m sure they [the community] will and I think the police want that as well.”

Ray says that chasm could be communication—the community with law enforcement and vice versa. Ray says he doesn’t know what the issue is, but he doesn’t think that to necessarily be the case.

“I do know that the community wants change. I believe that if you talk to the right people and enough people, you’ll be able to solve those crimes,” he said. “On both ends, there certainly should be due diligence to make sure all those crimes are investigated to the fullest and certainly people who are harboring information that may be beneficial to the police should share it.”

But, could more police presence in certain areas be an option in the community? “I think the community would invite the police, certainly right now, into some of the hot areas where the violence is taking place,” said Ray. “The issue is people don't want a police state. So inviting the police in means having a relationship so it's reciprocal, where the community feels like they're being protected and everyone is not subject to being a suspect so to speak.”

Despite all the violence, Ray says progress has been made during the community meetings. He says he and his colleagues have come up with a vision statement and logic model, and task forces will be developed to address all the areas of concern.

Those areas: anger management and violence, “What’s needed to deal with people who really are angry? How do they find a way to resolve those issues?” he said; economic and job development, “How do we create it so these individuals can find work, and education for those who maybe had an opportunity for a free education but now they don’t have the skills necessary to take the next step,” and finding ways to close the gap and create more opportunities, “We’ll have a group that will come together to create and strategize on how we can make bridges where there are no bridges for those who are behind,” he said.

Ray says he plans to present all this information at a community meeting April 12.




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