S.A.F.E. Task Force organizes to prevent Grand Rapids violence

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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – The S.A.F.E. Task Force, or Safe Alliances for Everyone, is working to prevent violent crime in Grand Rapids. Tuesday morning S.A.F.E. Chairperson and City Commissioner Senita Lenear presented 51 recommendations to city officials and Committee of the Whole.

S.A.F.E. targets youth 15 to 24-years-old, Lenear said due to research finding a gap in activities and employment for this age group. Recommendations are either short-term, moderate, or long-term goals broken into five categories. The categories use the acronym P.E.A.C.E.:

P – Prevention Investments, aimed at prevention of violence

E – Eliminate Violent Acts, focused on intervening and targeting those who commit violent acts

A – Activate Economic Opportunities, enhancing the economic and income status of teens and young adults

C – Community Engagement, Education, and Empowerment, by promoting information and community engagement

E – Effective Positive Change in Public Institutions, by revising city, state, and local policies

“Violence in one part of the community is violence in all of our community,” said Willie Patterson, neighborhood services manager with LINC Community Revitalization.

Patterson is a member of the Task Force, which is comprised of city commissioners and community leaders who are working to reduce violence in Grand Rapids.

“We wanted to include everyone: we wanted the Grandmother who wanted to sit on her porch to feel comfortable there, without having a bullet fly past her, as much as we wanted someone that’s 15 through 24 to be able to roam the streets without being gunned down, or feeling as though they are being harassed in the community,” said Lenear.

The crime rate in Grand Rapids is at what the Grand Rapids Police Department called a “historic” low: murders between 2013 and 2014 are down 65-percent. However, last weekend’s deadly shooting is a reminder that violence is here.

Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell said violence is a community-wide issue, and a timely one.

“As long as there’s a single shooting death in Grand Rapids, as long as we continue to have violence in our neighborhoods, and people to live to one degree or another in fear in their own neighborhoods, we’ve got an obligation as municipal government, and as a community to address those issues,” said Heartwell.

Heartwell announced the formation of the S.A.F.E. Task Force last May, to research national trends and find solutions to address violence in Grand Rapids’ neighborhoods, focusing on violence involving youth and guns.

Find a comprehensive list of the 51 S.A.F.E.Task Force recommendations and full report here.

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