NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD) – People in the City of North Charleston say they’re ready for concrete solutions that will reduce gun violence in the area. City Councilman Jerome Heyward says the problem is more than a crisis.
At a town hall meeting on Tuesday, many grassroots organizations, activists, and city leaders presented new ideas, along with some that are already being implemented, to solve the problem.
A boots-on-the-ground approach is how organizations like the Racial Justice Network, Real Champions Inc., and others are helping.
Mentorship programs, free meals, sports clubs, community walks, and creating apprenticeship programs at major local employers, are just a few of the approaches being taken. But some people say ending gun violence takes more than that and they’re asking what can be done now to get the ball rolling.
News 2 brought these questions directly to North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess who said his officers do the best they can.
“We don’t have that crystal ball in law enforcement. So our preventative method… is simply being out there in the neighborhoods, riding around with our windows down speaking to the neighbors,” said Chief Burgess.
He also says it’s not a problem that can be solved solely by law enforcement, but that it takes an entire community.
“The crime is reported by whom? The people. When people report crime, we have different techniques, different methods to go into the community and deal with the people causing the problems,” said the chief.
Burgess is all about community policing which involves going to different communities and asking people what problems are facing the area and finding ways to help. Additionally, being involved in community events and sports games and making their presence known in a neighborly capacity makes a big impact. H says he strives to keep his department involved.
Lowcountry activist Pastor Thomas Dixon believes the boots-on-the-ground approach and community policing do help, but he says the issue runs deeper into the economy, schools, and home life.
“We can continue to push the see something say something, but we have to also offer a solution to the no snitch rule with that. We can say that education is key to remedying the gun violence, but then we have to get into that system,” said Pastor Dixon.
He said it’s hard to pinpoint immediate change because it takes more than just one approach.
“As far as I can see there are no immediate solutions because it’s too big,” he said.
Pastor Dixon and other activists and city leaders agree that removing illegal guns from the streets and implementing harsher punishments for those found guilty of gun violence will send a message.
“If those who have guns who should not have guns are using guns to hurt people, then we need to take them and those guns off of the street,” said Dixon.
Councilman Heyward says he’s hopeful changes can be made soon because during the summertime, crime increases in the city.
“We have bloodshed. It has been a historic thing that we have more problems in the City of North Charleston, particularly with our youth, so we’re trying to get ahead of school letting out,” said Heyward.
He is working to host more town hall meetings and speaking with the state legislature about implementing higher punishments for criminals.
This is an ongoing problem in the city and all of the people involved say it takes a community to help reduce gun violence.