KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville’s Violence Reduction Leadership team monthly meeting on Thursday came with encouraging news that homicides are down in the city so far in 2023, but leaders stressed that more must be done to reduce violence in the community.

The leadership committee is comprised of more than 25 leaders representing city government, law enforcement, criminal law, systems participants, medical systems representatives, service providers, faith leaders, and violence impacted persons.

The committee and monthly meetings are a part of a violence reduction plan that was finalized earlier this year.

With an emphasis on areas where violence is prevalent, Knoxville Police Department officials and other members of the Violence Reduction team have been walking through neighborhoods in an effort to bridge the gap between the community, law enforcement, and community leaders.

Homicide numbers are down so far this year and the team is doing more to engage with the community through meetings and other outreach.

“It was great to see that unity,” KPD Chief Paul Noel said. “It was great to see that interaction with the community just letting everybody know from the mayor on down, we are all committed to reducing violence in Knoxville.”

Parents like Terry Walker-Smith, who lost two of her sons to violent crimes, know the pain that crime can have on a family. She is hopeful that more can be done to help the community and is pleased with how the plan currently in place is working.

“It’s better to have what we have in place,” Walker-Smith said. “It just shows that our community and our city that we are working to reduce the violence in the city and to build those bridges and have the community involved, the police involved and the city of Knoxville to be involved in this process.”

According to KPD, the number of homicides this year is less than was a year ago at this time.

“Homicides are trending down, shootings are trending down. We did have a homicide yesterday that was domestic-related,” Noel said. “One brother killed another brother. You have to remember what we’re doing here. We are just in the infancy right now of building this program out. What we are really trying to do is interrupt individuals who are potentially going to be living in a life of violence and try to redirect that behavior.”

One of the biggest things this group is trying to achieve, is to bring awareness to a problem plaguing the community.

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“One thing to, is that some of the community sees the gunshots as being normal and it’s not normal,” Walker-Smith said. “To see something that’s not normal as normal needs to change.”

The Violence Reduction Team is looking to expand on the plan that is currently in place to continue making Knoxville safer. Their next meeting will be in September at the Knoxville Area Urban League building at 1514 E 5th Ave.

Editor’s Note: This story has been updated.