MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Within the Department of Public Safety, we are doing everything we know to do to respond to crime and prevent it. But violent crime isn't just a police issue. It's also about education, jobs, families, public health, and spiritual health. We all share the need to resolve violent crime, especially violent crime involving our young people.
As Director of Public Safety, I'm concerned about youth violence, but I'm also concerned about youth development. I am concerned for young people who have obstacles that could prevent them from growing into productive citizens and reaching their full potential.
What does it take for young people to learn conflict resolution, character, ethics, teamwork? How do they stay in school and get a good education? How do they stay away from drugs, gangs, criminal activity? And how do young people learn that you don't have to fight or pull a gun to be respected?
It takes parents, grandparents, teachers, police, neighbors, the media … it takes all of us.
I was on South Court Monday after the fatal shooting of 14-year-old Jacquerria Timmons, our 14th homicide victim. I was on East Park in March after Maribel Barrera, just 13 years old, was shot to death. They're not the only young homicide victims this year; and of the 11 suspects MPD has charged with murder, seven have been teenagers.
When it comes to preventing violence and protecting our youth, the Department of Public Safety is all in. MPD partners with the DA's Helping Montgomery Families Initiative and MPS; they are all in with community policing and social service agencies; we work with young people through Park, Walk & Talk, the Junior Police Academy, Explorers, and other programs. And we're also involved with the mayor's new youth initiative.
There are no easy answers, but Montgomery is a city of committed citizens who are getting a lot of good work done. Your Department of Public Safety is all in, and we're asking you to make the same commitment to the youth of Montgomery.