KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Local leaders are putting their heads together to build a plan to reduce gun violence in Knoxville.
Three months ago, Knoxville was the first city chosen for a violent crime reduction study by the University of Maryland. On Wednesday, Mayor Indya Kincannon brought together a diverse group of leaders to talk about solutions.
The Mayor’s Leadership Committee had one goal in mind Wednesday during their meeting; stopping gun violence.
“Community violence, also known as street violence is when people who may be group or gang involved have interpersonal beefs with each other that they end up in violence or death,” Mayor Indya Kincannon said. “Sometimes that’s perpetuated through cycles of revenge, so this is to interrupt that violence and prevent it.”
Knoxville Police has identified at least 17 active groups in the Knoxville city limits. The City of Knoxville shared a map of where these groups are most active but also how small of an area they cover.
“It’s not that many people and it’s not that many places,” Kincannon said. “We think this collective concerted focus and fair effort can really make a difference in Knoxville.”
The mayor added that some of these problems have come from childhood issues and they want to help those that could be affected by community violence.
“We need to address those issues of adverse childhood issues and lack of opportunity,” Kincannon said. “First you have to stop the bleeding and that’s what this effort is; to help people who are most at risk of being a victim of murder or being perpetrators of that.”
Members of the community were also in attendance saying that their “training” is from experience alone and that they are wanting to be more proactive with the correct training. The goal is that each person makes a difference to benefit his or her community.
“We want to help people change the way they think and that is working with entities like the McNabb Center that offers cognitive behavior interventions,” Kincannon said.
The leadership team is also partnering up with community-based groups like Connect Ministries and Knoxville Leadership Foundations to help people overcome barriers.
According to KPD, the murder rate dropped 15% over the course of 2022. Now, KPD along with this initiative is looking to reduce murders by another 10% this year.