There is no question 2020 was a very violent year for the City of Utica. There were a number of homicides, shootings, stabbings and 'shots fired.' One local Councilman is now calling on the community to help put an end to the senseless violence.

Councilman Delvin Moody joined 'First News' with Keeler in the Morning Tuesday to express is growing concern about the increase in gun violence. Moody believes the change can't come just from law enforcement, but within communities in which the violence is taking place. Moody says it has to start early on with educating students in the school district. "We have to start doing it in the middle schools, really in the elementary schools to begin to start turning around the lives of young kids who may be going down this path," says Moody. It seems as if these crimes are being committed by individuals who are in their teens and early twenties, in some cases still practically kids.

Moody says gun violence is a symptom of a bigger problem. He believes impoverished areas are more prone to things like lead poisoning, economic stresses and mental health issues. It has to start on the family level. Moody says, "We have to help parents be better parents, help them get into better jobs and help them transform, to not be in poverty." He believes that will also help transform the community.

There is also a need to end the "Snitch Culture" in communities across the nation. Moody bluntly told Keeler, "You will think twice before pulling that trigger if you know you are going to jail." He went on to call for the closing of investigations into instances of violence. "When I say we need a community response I mean we need to come forward, we need to close these investigations and we have to send people to jail," Moody emphasized. In an effort to help start to bridge the gap and make the change Moody plans to hold a community conversation Thursday night. Moody plans to broadcast the conversation on his Delvin Moody Councilman Facebook page. He wants to start things off by bringing into the fold what other communities around the nation are doing to address similar issues. You can tune in Thursday, January 7th, 2021 at 6 p.m.

We ended our conversation with Moody discussing a lack of community centers, specifically for children. Gone are the days of 'The Boys and Girls Club' and other agencies like them. Keeler also asked Moody if police were to blame. "The police are who we call when these shootings happen. I don't blame police," Moody replied. While he feels actions of law enforcement in the past and the criminal justice, as a whole, may play a part in community distrust the police are trying to help.

The conversation is just starting, but there is a lot to be discussed.

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