PINE BLUFF (KATV) — The city of Pine Bluff is working to reduce gun violence with a new program called Group Violence Intervention or GVI.
The program's director, Leanita Hughes, said this new initiative started in January.
Hughes says they are working behind the scenes to lower gun violence among youth and young adults.
She said the city has a lot of promise if everyone can work together.
"More graduations, less funerals, and that's what we want," Hughes said. "We want children to be successful, we want the children in our community to have hope. We want them to be able to find have jobs and have families."
Hughes told KATV she believes the city of Pine Bluff's population has dropped because of the uptick in violence. On Monday, the Pine Bluff Police Department released information on a homicide that happened over the weekend.
They reported an incident that injured two juveniles, and one of them, who was shot, later died due to the injury.
Hughes said recent homicides are a reminder of the importance of investing in the youth.
"It really gets emotional because sometimes you think when a child graduated, hey, we got them there, but then this happens, so it can get a little frustrating and unheartening," she said.
Reverend Jesse Turner said their faith-based group of pastors has continued to work with children in the schools since 2006. He said their program, from non-violence to no violence two years ago has helped lower violence on school campuses in Pine Bluff.
"We have seen it reduced in schools, and now it has bled into the community, and so we have to begin to focus on what is it that I can do," he said.
Turner told KATV it is going to take the help of the entire community of Pine Bluff to lower gun violence.
He said the statistics he received from the police department are troubling.
"In the last 29 months, we've had about 49 homicides, 43 of those homicides have been Black males and recently they've been our young males that's up to 20 years old," Turner said.
According to Turner, their faith-based group is working on a summer program to help reduce youth violence.
Hughes believes if parents reach out for help or become more active in their child's life, it potentially could help change in future outcomes of violence.
For anyone who would like more information about this program, click this link to send an email.