Gulfport residents want to see new initiative aimed at preventing violence

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - In an effort to curb violence, Gulfport police are looking at a program on the East Coast that could be implemented here.

It's called the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative and it's currently being used in Massachusetts.

Many Gulfport residents say they are interested in seeing how a program like this could benefit areas of the city that see a higher rate of crime.

"The violence in Gulfport is terrible. I've seen kids with guns actually," said Jermaine Watts.

"People don't like to be better than other people so they get into it," said Anthony Barnett. "Because one person don't want to be better than the next. Then when that happens, we have no safety," said Anthony Barnett.

"I think the crime has picked up tremendously, gun violence with underage kids," said Eric Hill.

Hill has experience working with children as an educator. He's happy to hear that Gulfport police are looking at new ways to stop the violence.

"If you look on the streets now, (out of ) ten kids, eight of them might have guns," said Hill. "So that's a lack of parental supervision. Kids are out all times of night walking up down the streets. A lot of them are not in school."

Some said whatever the new plan is it should include guidance for parents.

"To me personally, I just think that people just do what they want to do. They don't have control," said Evans Moore. "And it starts off with the parents. If the parents don't control their kids then they hang out with the wrong people and they do stupid stuff."

According to the American Institutes for Research, the Safe and Successful Youth Initiative in Massachusetts produced 35 fewer victims of violence each month in Boston from 2012 to 2013. It was by accomplished by implementing a violence prevention program that targets youth.

Hill said he'd like to see more activities for the youth and more parents getting involved in their children's lives.

"I really, really looking forward to hearing what exactly he is going to put in place," he said. "And I can help in any way I can because I grew up in 
Gulfport and I want to see our communities thrive."

Police Chief Leonard Papania plans on meeting with the city council on Tuesday to discuss ways to curb crime.

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