Decatur had more shootings in July than any other month in at least five years. Decatur Police Officers need our support
Decatur is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence and it must come to an end. Last month, there were 36 reported shootings in Decatur and year-to-date thru July, there have been 116 shootings. By comparison, there were 10 shootings in July 2020 and shootings are up 66% compared to last year when there were 70 YTD thru July. To put the number of shootings in perspective, there have been more shootings in Decatur in the first 7 months of 2021 than were reported in all of 2016 (n=54), 2017 (n=95), 2018 (n=90), and 2019 (n=83).
THANK YOU DECATUR POLICE OFFICERS. REDUCING CRIME IS A COMMUNITY EFFORT
I want to thank the 142 men and women of the Decatur Police Department that risk their lives every day to keep our city and its citizens safe. The heroic actions that you take daily are greatly appreciated, and words cannot fully describe the gratitude that we have for you protecting us.
We can reduce the gun violence in the city. In the short-term, our police will continue to work tirelessly to both prevent and solve these shootings. In the long-term, we as a city must work together to address the long-standing challenges that may lead to criminal activity. If you see something, please say something. There are also anonymous ways to report crimes.
THE CITY OF DECATUR HAS THE FINANCIAL RESOURCES TO INVEST IN PROGRAMS THAT CAN REDUCE VIOLENT CRIME
The city council should revise the amount of American Rescue Plan (ARP) funds dedicated to reducing gun violence and implement other crime prevention initiatives. The city council’s allocation of ARP funds is inadequate to meet our immediate needs to improve public safety. Of the ~$17 million the city received, the council allocated $500,000 for police and fire one-time expenses and ~$1.7 million of ARP funds that remain unallocated (13% of $17 million assuming all unallocated funds go to reducing crime). By comparison $9 million was allocated to water projects (53%).
More ARP funds should be used to recruit and retain police officers, increase the number of mental health crisis counselors to assist police officers (according to the Kennedy Forum, 10% of the total budget and 21% of staff time of law enforcement agencies were spent responding to persons living with mental illness in 2017), install additional neighborhood cameras (60 cameras cost $165,000 per year), and launch community violence intervention programs such as the Peace Summit hosted by the Salvation Army. Furthermore, even when the city of Decatur is successful in lowering violent crime, it must still invest in programs that reduce the causes of criminal activity in the long term such as youth employment initiatives and reentry programs for those that were formerly incarcerated.