Law enforcement leaders in Alexandria, Virginia, outlined a new effort this week that involves aggressive communication and community outreach to tackle violence and other criminal activity that have been increasing among young people.
According to Easton McDonald, Alexandria’s assistant police chief, officers had nearly 30 encounters this month alone with juveniles who were tied up in crimes, ranging from having illegal weapons to selling drugs.
“There is an uptick with juveniles,” McDonald said. “We plan on working with the community to stop the violence.”
McDonald said his department has identified “approximately 21 stakeholders” that police can work with as they try to address the problem.
“We think that the principal goal of this dynamic program is to achieve a substantial near-term impact on gun violence, stricter enforcement of parole and probation, substance abuse treatment or a combination of sanctions and services that change as the conditions change,” McDonald said.
McDonald said officers would be out in neighborhoods more often, talking to members of the public during community events.
“We will spread out over the city with information sharing,” said McDonald. “We want to emphasize solid and straightforward communications to the public.”
McDonald said there would be additional patrols in crime “hot spots.”
“I think those partnerships that you’re going to forge and continue to forge are so vitally important,” Alexandria Mayor Justin Wilson said. “These are incidents that have deeply concerned the community.”
One of those incidents last week was a shooting not far from a bus stop at the Bradlee Shopping Center.
McDonald said there were “numerous shell casings” found in the area, and an 18-year-old was arrested.
It reminded residents of a deadly stabbing last year at the shopping center in which a 16-year-old Alexandria High School student was arrested.
Luis Hernandez, 18, was killed in the stabbing that was part of a fight involving dozens of young people.
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