MOBILE — Mobile Police Chief Paul Prine said he believes a Community Peace Forum held Saturday was a success, but he told 1819 News he hopes the momentum continues so the city’s youth has a fighting chance.
“Every time we have a child killed in the community, there’s not much outcry and we’re left dealing with it,” Prine said. “It’s so unfortunate we have to try to find a way to lower that crime and do it in a way that is dignified and respectful to the entire community. But people need to also understand, in my opinion, that crime is everyone’s responsibility.”
Councilman Cory Penn’s comments during a council meeting following a New Year’s celebration shooting prompted the Community Peace Forum at Government Plaza.
“Our goal is to collaborate and devise a plan that propels our youth going forward and showing a brighter future for them and for our city as a whole,” Penn said at the beginning of the forum.
Concern has been focused on the city’s youth because many offenders and victims fall into the 15 to 25 age range.
While the police department looks at these statistics, Prine said officers can only do so much, but faith, love and discipline are all things that must come from within the home.
“Far too often, the police department is not equipped to lead this type of change, just because of the nature of our job,” Prine told 1819 News. “I’ve always said that it should be the community that leads that effort and demands that quality of life they all want with the police department supporting their efforts.”
In the past 24 months, crime has decreased 20%, and homicides have dropped 40%. During the forum, Prine told the crowd of around 60 citizens that he was proud of that but not satisfied.
“More has to be done,” Prine told the crowd. “That’s why we will continue to evaluate our patterns, our practices and even our training. Listen, that is our obligation to you, our community, because we should always be providing the best service that we can.”
“We recognize that we cannot arrest our way out of this culture of violence, nor can we do this alone,” he continued. “I believe that the change, the catalyst to change the environment takes all of us.”
Prine said it is important for citizens to remember if they see something, say something.
Community leaders, non-profit directors and school officials gathered for the forum. They discussed their efforts in fighting crime among Mobile’s youth. Others who participated included a trauma surgeon, a representative from AltaPointe and Mobile’s Youth Violence Prevention Coordinator, Joshua Jones.
The city also handed out notecards for citizens to drop suggestions after the meeting.
Penn said he hopes they can now collaborate and foster a better environment for the future of the city’s youth.
Councilman William Carroll said he wanted to invite school officials to the next public safety meeting to begin working with them immediately.
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