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Reichert: Macon Needs More Youth Intervention Programs

6:00 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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Macon Mayor Robert Reichert says last week's shooting at Zodiac Lounge and its teenaged victim bring up a problem the city has been battling, youth violence.

In 2011, he and former police chief Mike Burns put together a seven-step plan and presented it to city council.

They asked for permission to hire six new police officers and aimed to partner with schools and the religious community. They also wanted to use the city's office of Workforce Development to promote jobs and education.

Instead of six new officers, city council allowed the police department to hire one civilian to spearhead crime-prevention projects.

Last year, Reichert said police did several truancy sweeps at schools and met with ministers to discuss ways to help.

The Bibb County School District also hired career coaches through Workforce Development. 

"We hope that it is getting better, but obviously every time you have a high profile incident, a death, a fatality, it makes you feel like we're not making any progress at all. So it's disconcerting to say the least," explains Reichert.

He says the city still needs to focus more on prevention, not just enforcement.

"We've got to have more programs and more participation by churches, by schools, by neighborhood associations, by neighborhood watch, and by parents and family members to step up and help us do something."

Reichert also says youth violence is not a problem unique to Macon.

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