“We want to bridge that gap.” Leaders, residents discuss ways to curb youth violence
COLUMBUS COUNTY, N.C. (WECT) - A number of deadly shootings and incidents of violence among young people have shaken Columbus County in recent months. Thursday night, county leaders invited residents to share their concerns in a “Call to Action” at Southeastern Community College.
Columbus County residents are passionate about keeping their families safe. They are concerned about what Sheriff Jody Greene says is a trend of violence among the county’s youth.
“Absolutely it’s a cause for alarm,” Greene said, referring to when there were three youths killed back in July. “It’s going to take the community working with us to solve crimes like that.”
Greene says he wanted Thursday night’s discussion to set the county on a path towards saving its children. Among the concerned citizens were those asking questions about how county leaders, law enforcement and the judicial system can strengthen their relationship with residents.
“We care about our young people,” said District Court Judge Quintin McGee. “We care about them, we care about their successes and them all having a brighter future.”
Residents and leaders appeared to communicate a host of commonalities when discussing how to create that brighter future. Among the topics discussed was an emphasis on family, education, and healthy relationships.
“We say community, but you also have to realize that family plays a very important role in the community part,” said Dr. Timothy Lance, a pastor at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church.
Attorney Boyd Worley spoke about the importance of young people going to school and participating in activities to give them a reason to stay in the classroom.
“What I find amazing is, if we have individuals that don’t want to go to school, we give them an incentive to be there,” Worley said. “If it wasn’t for athletics, I wouldn’t have been interested in school.”
Greene hopes Thursday’s discussion will be the first of many between leaders and residents about how to make Columbus County a safer place.
“I want the community to know we are the friends, we’re not the enemies,” Greene said. “We want to bridge that gap.”
County leaders hope to work with the community to curb violence and create comfort.
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