City leaders optimistic about strategies to reduce violence

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DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Some new police units are helping fight gun violence in the city.

They have already gotten a lot of guns off the streets in the past few weeks.

Danville city leaders are optimistic new police strategies will reduce violence. In the past month, police have taken major steps forward. “When people start shooting indiscriminately, they create a major safety issue for all involved,” said Danville Mayor Rickey Williams, Jr.

Chief Yates said a new initiative his department rolled out in May helped to get guns off the streets. It focuses on community policing and putting officers in problem areas. “Our community has really driven it home what’s important to them–gun violence as being one of the top issues for our community, and they expected a response and this is part of it,” said Yates. The response came in the form of two new police units: Problem-oriented policing or “POP” and community housing.

The POP unit got five guns off the street in one month. A sixth was taken by a patrol officer.

The community housing unit has been meeting with new tenants. They have also worked with complexes to handle lease violations.

Williams said getting to know the community before problems happen, helps. “They have time that they can commit being proactive with people,” said Williams. “It’s so much easier to have respect and communication when you know someone, right?”

While these efforts are important, Alderman Steve Foster said it will take more than police to solve the issue. “We have to convince people that it’s their community. And if it’s their community, they need to help us. We can’t solve a mystery when you’re deep in the secret,” said Foster.

As of two weeks ago, 30 people were shot this year in Danville. That is more than half of those shot last year, which was around 40. Last year saw the most shootings since 2014.

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