RICHMOND, Va. -- A Richmond pastor is helping organize a roundtable discussion Tuesday afternoon that will focus on ways to put an end to the rising gun violence across Central Virginia.
Second Baptist Church Pastor Ralph Hodge is with Richmonders Involved in Strengthening Communities (RISC), which is the organization helping to host the roundtable that will feature nationally recognized gun violence intervention experts, along with state and local leaders.
"We've got several people committed to coming to that roundtable, from state senators to, you know, local officials, local law enforcement, the US Attorney's Office, should have representatives there, and maybe other some other federal agencies may be represented as well, which I think in recent days, they have made it known that they are very interested in reducing gun violence in the Richmond area," said Hodge.
Hodge added that panelists will provide information on successful interventions, and first steps the city should take to begin tackling the growing issue.
"It's about interrupting violence, and about providing interventions that are going to lead people down a better road and have a safer community," Hodge said. "And so we are talking about the idea of reappropriating public safety dollars to be used for more effective gun violence reduction strategies."
The conversation comes as Richmond and surrounding counties continue to see gun violence rise. Statistics show that so far Richmond has had more than 190 shootings in 2021 and among those, 64 have been homicides.
Last week, Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, addressed the recent increase in gun violence, and said he is considering possible federal solutions to the gun violence.
“We want to bring resources to bear, but learn from mistakes of the past,” Stoney said. “Yes, Project Exile was successful in the 90s when we were seeing high crime in our neighborhoods, but I think we learned from that time to execute different programs like it moving forward. So I don't know if it's Project Exile, but we do need to work with our partners to bring these individuals to justice."
Hodges believes there can be different solutions.
"What we need is real intervention strategies where we involve the whole community, community organizations, social services, mental health providers, drug treatment, housing, jobs, providing wraparound services to those who are involved or have the potential be involved in gun violence," Hodges said. "That's what they need, you know, we're not going to arrest our way out of this problem."
The roundtable discussion will be Tuesday, Oct. 19, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. The public is encourage to attend online. To register, click here.