Sunday, June 16, 2024

Advocates in Tampa explore solutions to address teen gun violence issue

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Addressing Teen Gun Violence: Advocates and Law Enforcement Raise Concerns and Offer Solutions

TAMPA, Fla. — The issue of gun violence involving young people and teens has once again come to the forefront in the Tampa community, prompting both law enforcement and advocates to take action.

Johnny Johnson, Vice President of Rise Up for Peace, a group dedicated to opposing gun violence, knows the pain of losing a loved one to gun violence all too well. His son, Jayquon, was tragically shot and killed in 2017.

Sitting on a park bench dedicated to victims of gun violence, Johnson emphasized the need for a collective effort to address the issue. “As our organization’s slogan says, it takes all of us,” he said.

The recent shooting involving teens in the community has only added to the urgency of the situation. Johnson stressed the importance of investing in the youth through education and job opportunities to steer them away from violence.

Tampa Police Chief Lee Bercaw echoed Johnson’s sentiments, acknowledging the frustration surrounding teen gun violence. While there has been a decrease in juvenile-related gun crime, Chief Bercaw emphasized the high risks associated with young people carrying guns.

To combat this issue, the Tampa Police Department is implementing various programs aimed at building trust and positive relationships with young people. From educational initiatives to mentorship programs, the goal is to provide alternatives to a life of violence.

Chief Bercaw highlighted programs such as the TPD Youth Academy, TPD Police Explorer program, and Stay and Play as avenues for youth engagement. Additionally, the department recently launched the Shielding Our Teens program in high schools to help teenagers prepare for job interviews and secure employment.

In light of the recent incidents, police are urging responsible gun ownership and cautioning against leaving guns in vehicles. Johnson emphasized the importance of adults setting a positive example for young people and being better leaders in the community.

With a multifaceted approach that involves both law enforcement and community members, there is hope for a future where young people can thrive without the threat of gun violence looming over their heads.

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