Akron mayor calls on community partners to help city reduce violent crimes by young people
Akron has fine-tuned its effort to reduce crime among youths, with Mayor Daniel Horrigan issuing a call to action last week for the community to support the city's campaign.
The city recently updated its Youth Violence Intervention and Prevention Strategic Plan with the goal of reducing the number of violent crimes committed by Akron residents ages 13-24 by 10% from 2023 to 2028.
"We all want our community to be a safer place, but this can only happen if we are coordinating and aligning our local resources for generations to come," Horrigan said in a news release last week.
He said community partners can help by donating funds toward the United Way of Summit and Medina's Bold Goal 2, seeking out volunteer opportunities and familiarizing themselves with the youth violence prevention plan.
"I believe this updated plan is more ambitious in its reach and is better grounded in the area of evaluation than its predecessor, which will lead to more measurable impacts for our youth and our community."
Horrigan appointed Denico Buckley-Knight in April 2022 to the role of youth and community opportunity director, with responsibilities including implementation of the anti-violence plan that was launched in 2019 but derailed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Crystal Jones, former executive director of Project Ujima, co-led efforts to revise the city's rebooted strategy.
Horrigan said he applauds the efforts of both.
While the pandemic was disruptive, Buckley-Knight said, one positive outcome was the availability of new funds to give city a financial boost toward its violence prevention goals.
"Back in 2019, the strategic plan had little to no funding, only the goodwill and commitment of the steering committee to implement its recommendations," said Buckley-Knight. "Thanks to American Rescue Plan Act funds, the city has now been able to fund a ‘boots on the ground’ approach, acknowledging that community-based providers have the best opportunity to fully engage with youth in their neighborhoods. As we continue to implement the strategies outlined in our updated plan, I encourage our community to get involved and lend their support to help resolve this problem which impacts all of us."
The plan focuses on these key strategies:
Providing one-on-one and group mentoring for people ages 13–24, including those who are incarcerated.
Creating programs to provide positive, safe recreational and social activities for youths/young adults.
Aiding formerly incarcerated youths/young adults with getting their lives back on track and avoid recidivism.
Improving trust and between youths/young adults and the police.
Reaching out with support services to youths and their families who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Supporting youths and their families who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.
Reducing young people's unsupervised and unrestricted access to firearms.
Generating sustained community involvement in preventing youth violence.
Offering training, job placement, and coaching for out-of-school time employment for youth and livable wage employment for young adults.
The city has partnered with Akron Public Schools, the Akron Police Department, the Summit Education Initiative, Summit County Juvenile Court and more than 30 other local organizations to work on the violent crime reduction initiative.
Reporter Anthony Thompson can be reached at [email protected], or on Twitter @athompsonABJ
This article originally appeared on Akron Beacon Journal: City of Akron updates its youth violence prevention plan