The CU Fresh Start initiative held its first “Call-In” meeting on the evening of October 6, 2016. The Call-In was a powerful face-to-face meeting of law enforcement representatives, community members and social service providers sending a clear message to nine targeted offenders, their street groups, gangs, and associates. Their message – “The gun violence in our community must stop now.”
The nine individuals sat before a panel of community leaders and heard about the devastation and damage that violence has on innocent victims, families, the community, and even their own lives. The purpose of the meeting was to alert the participants of the immediate and firm consequences they will face for any gun-related crimes; as well as an offering of assistance to those willing to turn their lives around.
“These individuals are at a crossroads in their lives,” reports Tracy Parsons, Facilitator- Champaign Community Coalition. “If they choose to change their ways, we’re offering to help identify the resources they need to be productive citizens. But if they continue to engage in gun violence, we’re letting them know they will be prosecuted to the greatest extent possible. This is about community taking care of community and making a firm stance to take back our streets.”
An innovative, targeted approach to deter community gun violence, the CU Fresh Start initiative is modeled after the book “Don’t Shoot” by David Kennedy, and offers a direct address to individuals who are believed to be involved in, or who based on past history, are most likely to engage in incidents of gun violence. Law enforcement and community members worked together to identify participants for the Call-In, using the objective criteria of: age 18 or older, on parole or probation, prior felony arrest, prior gun arrest or violent crime conviction, and credible information of recent involvement in violent crime. The success of the initiative relies on three pillars – community, law enforcement, and services.
“We can’t arrest our way out of this, and local law enforcement can’t do it alone,” added Parsons. “This is an opportunity for these individuals, and our community, to take a fresh look at how we support each other and how we hold one another accountable. If they’re truly ready to work on turning their lives around, we’re ready to help be their guide.”
CU Fresh Start is a priority initiative of the Champaign Community Coalition. To learn more about the Coalition and how to get involved, visit ChampaignCommunityCoalition.org.
Contact: Tracy Parsons | 217-403-8330 | email@example.com