Gang violence, shootings, and homicide continue to plague too many low-income neighborhoods—whether in New Orleans, St. Louis, Detroit, Chicago, or more.
It's tempting to look at crime and violence as a law enforcement problem, arguing about how aggressive police should be or what the right methods are to crack down on crime. In Shreveport, we're trying an entirely different approach—one which is showing positive results and can be a model for other cities. It's one based on building good character and helping it to take root in our community to bring about long-term change.
My Allendale neighborhood used to be one of Shreveport’s worst. Just 10 years ago, our poor, predominantly black community was devastated by crime and violence. Gunshots were part of a normal day.
Back then, nearly 350 crimes were committed here in one year—that’s almost one new crime every day. Today, major crime is down 60 percent—it’s not perfect but it’s a lot better.
As one of only three married couples in our neighborhood, my husband and I try to set an example. I’ll never forget when we first moved here, and one of my students said, “Black people don’t get married.”
Sharpel Welch is a 2019 Civil Society Fellow at the Manhattan Institute. An Army veteran and educator, Welch is a youth community coordinator at Community Renewal International, a faith-based nonprofit that brings together caring partners to restore the foundation of safe and caring communities.
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