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Group discusses deploying 'violence interrupters' to help curb crime in Dallas

Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. shares its plan to help crime hot spots in Dallas. The City Council will officially vote on a contract with the agency on April 28.

DALLAS — A violent weekend kept police busy in Dallas County. Crimes involving senseless gun violence left at least seven young people dead.

”I actually heard about five to six gunshots,” said Evan Adegbayi who was a guest at a hotel where a 17-year-old was shot and killed. ”It’s unreal and it doesn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense to me.”

RELATED: Lancaster High School Football star, University of Wyoming recruit killed in shooting at Dallas hotel

The Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee is yet again looking at strategies to curb violent crime as summer approaches.

On Monday, the committee heard a presentation from Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. The City of Dallas has contracted the nationally recognized nonprofit to launch its violence interrupters program.

”We’ll be meeting with community people. We’re going to blanket neighborhoods,” said Gary Ivory of Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.

Violence interrupters make it their mission to go into hot spots for crime, engage with neighbors, and connect them with resources in hopes of helping to make communities safer. Youth Advocate Programs, Inc. already has successful models in cities like Chicago, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore.

”That’s what we’ve been doing is hiring people within the targeted area, who know that neighborhood, that have to have trust with the young people, trust with the family, as well that can interface with the police and law enforcement,” Ivory explained.

During the same Public Safety Meeting, the Dallas Police Department offered updates on its violent crime reduction plan.

The data shows homicides and aggravated assaults continue to be main areas of concern. There have been 51 homicides so far this year, with 12 occurring in March. There were 469 aggravated assaults during the same month. Gang and drug related incidents are also on the rise.

These statistics are another reason some of the Public Safety Committee members are optimistic about violence interrupters in the community.

”I’m glad we were able to add this program in,” said Councilman Lee Kleinman.

The City of Dallas is budgeting $800,000 from its general fund for the Violence Interrupters initiative. It will be up for vote by the full council on April 28.

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