Expert says jobs, not police, will help reduce Fayetteville viol - WNCN: News, Weather

Expert says jobs, not police, will help reduce Fayetteville violence

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At a rally Tuesday, Felicia Jordan held a sign about her son Ravon who was shot and killed. At a rally Tuesday, Felicia Jordan held a sign about her son Ravon who was shot and killed.
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. - A call to stop violence rang out in downtown Fayetteville Tuesday night during an anti-violence rally. Six hours after that rally, a 32-year-old man was hurt in a shooting off Reilly Road. Police say the motive for the shooting just before 3 a.m. was robbery.

That shooting could have served as a depressant and drawn into question what can really be effective at reducing violent crime in Fayetteville. However, rally organizer Larry Wright was unphased.

"I wasn't discouraged at all based upon that shooting,” Wright said. “It infused me more.”

Wright is a city councilman who says he organized the rally in direct response to the death of Ravon Jordan and nine others who have been killed in Fayetteville this year. Jordan had spoken up about crime concerns at a city council meeting in May. He was shot and killed in June.

At the rally Police Chief Harold Medlock said it is time to be more aggressive about getting illegal guns off the streets.

"We're going to have to start calling out our children, our grandchildren, our nieces and nephews and our friends when we see them carrying a gun,” Medlock said.

He urged people to report illegal guns so that officers could come and collect them – no questions asked to the person who calls to make the report.

On Wednesday Wright repeated his Tuesday-night pledge to figure out what programs will help young people.

"We need to pour into those programs more and then add what we need to add," Wright said.

However, criminologist and Fayetteville State University dean David Barlow said most programs are not effective at reaching the most at-risk kids – those living below the poverty line. He believes the key is economic development. He said, basically, if parents have the opportunity of more and better jobs, their children will benefit.

"It's a solid job with a living wage,” Barlow said of what can really make a difference. “A lot of them say I don't want to go flip burgers for minimum wage. I want something I can live on.

“If you have a stable economy, if you have those job opportunities, you’ll see decreases in crime,” he continued.

Barlow also said adding police officers likely will not make much difference.

"I don't think anyone would argue getting the police more involved in the community could have a positive impact – having them get to know the people in the community and so on,” Barlow said. “The question is has anything really changed in what the police are doing or is it just rhetoric.”

He believes better investments would be in drug rehab, intervention and educational opportunities. He said efforts to keep people from going to prison pay off more than efforts to incarcerate people for minor drug offenses.

“We’ve increased incarceration rates in this country since 1980 to outrageous numbers, and it’s almost all driven by the war on drugs and young people of color,” Barlow commented. “That is not creating stable communities. That’s locking up fathers and husbands and boyfriends and people who could be involved in the community’s lives, but they can’t because they’re locked up.”

He admits his views are just part of the conversation, but Barlow feels strongly about the need for more investment in education, mental health and economic development and less investment in law enforcement and corrections.

“We need to provide those types of services of mental health, education and economic support in hard-hit communities,” Barlow said.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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