CR Leaders to Hold Event to Curb Gun Violence

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG-TV9) -- A task force looking to solve gun violence through economics will give people an update on their progress Thursday, November 16.

The Equitable and Thriving Community or SET Task Force in Cedar Rapids was formed shortly after the fatal shooting of 15-year-old Aaron Richardson in 2015.

14-year-old Robert Humbles was convicted of the killing.

Since then the task force has released a series of recommendations to help curb gun violence.

Thursday night that task force is updating progress on those goals.

The event is called “Spark Up" and It will be at the downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library.

Both the Cedar Rapids Police Department and city leaders are inviting the community to come out and share ways they can promote outreach activities and get young teens involved.

Back in February, the Police Department presented seven recommendations during the final SET Task Force meeting.

Some of those recommendations they'll talk about Thursday night are ways to create a more positive attitude among police officers and teens.

While they've seen improvements, Chief Wayne Jerman says there are still challenges.

Too many young people in Cedar Rapids not only have access to guns, they carry guns too.

"It's very concerning for me and law enforcement, it's very concerning for the police officers here, I'd like to see a greater positive impact on the youth's attitudes towards possessing firearms," Chief Jerman said.

Chief Jerman says he's seen trust grow between students and school resources officers.

He says his department will continue to work on building relationships between police and the community.

Task force co-chair Stacey Walker says the SET Task Force focused on the importance of jobs and housing to deter gun violence.

The force also aims to change attitudes among teenagers about guns, but Walker believes it’s a complex issue. Even with a plan, he says it will take a community buy-in for it to work.

"The fact that we're going to host an event where we're inviting the community in to help us co-create work plans I think it's what's really going to give this project legs into the future, because this work doesn't belong to anyone elected official or anyone community leader, this work is going to take all of us," Walker said.

Walker says one of the goals of Thursday's event is to create plans the city can use to make the community safer with help from those participating in the forum.

The discussion will take place November 16 from 5:30 - 8:30 p.m. at the downtown Cedar Rapids Public Library.

It's free and open to the public and they're still looking for participants.

Those who are intersted can click, Here

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