Wilmington Mayor Dennis Williams took to the streets on Tuesday to walk through Hedgeville, one of the city’s hot spots for street crime.
Hedgeville is a Wilmington neighborhood where the national program “Cure Violence” will attempt to reach out to some of the perpetrators of local crime. Williams, along with Cure Violence Director Frank Perez assessed the area on Tuesday and greeted concerned neighbors in the community.
While in Hedgeville, Williams came face to face with Theodore Jackson, Sr. On April 3, at Harrison and Elm Streets, his son Theodore, Jr. became the sixth person murdered in the city this year.
“It’s political, that’s all it is,” Jackson said. “My son is dead. The shooters have not been caught, they have not been prosecuted, this is all political,”
According to Williams, the goal of the program is to tackle crime, get a hold on more than 25 shooting incidents so far this year, and solve cases that include the shooting death of 39-year old Theodore Jackson, Jr.
To achieve these goals, Williams maintains that community support is necessary, especially once the Cure Violence program is implemented in May.
“We need community support because if people do not tell us, we cannot come in and read people minds,” Williams said.
He said that solving cases like Jackson’s murder can take up to six months or longer, but investigations can end in a more timely fashion when residents are willing to talk to police.
“People are scared, they have to live here. When they tell on somebody they got to go back in their homes,” Jackson said. “Something has to be done.”
The health care perspective
According to Perez, the program is designed with hospital outreach as a main focus. Cure Violence participants will reach out to shooting victims in the hospital, who often consider retaliation after being discharged from the hospital. The Christiana Care Health System is already engaged as a partner in the program.
Former offenders will also participate and offer first-hand experience in effort to deter any criminal activity.
Perez explained that the Cure Violence model has been effective in Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, New Orleans or Baltimore, due in large part to its multi-faceted approach.
“We’ve dealt with it from this health perspective and we’ve seen reductions in shootings and killings in those other areas and we are looking forward to doing the same here,” said Perez.
About $200,000 dollars has been set aside in the city’s budget for the Cure Violence program. Department of Parks and Recreation Deputy Shawn Allen will lead the prevention program.
“The challenge is to add on to the criminal justice system by looking at violence, not from the suppression or criminal justice perspective, but to look at it from the health perspective,” said Perez.