Augusta, GA (WJBF) - 3 shootings in 3 days and investigators with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office are looking for the suspects.
In May, Sheriff Richard Roundtree announced a program dedicated to targeting these kinds of crimes. The initiative is called “Giving Back.” When announcing the program, the Sheriff said crime rates overall have dropped in Richmond County; however, the number of gun related crimes has stayed the same. The “Giving Back” program aims to reduce the number of gun crimes in our communities.
Those who qualify for “Giving Back” are those who have been involved in a gun related crime in the past either as a perpetrator, a victim or a witness. The Sheriff’s office is identifying a group of people who have a high risk of being involved in a gun crime and trying to prevent tragedy before it happens.
“This is a proactive approach,” says Lateisha Mosquera who is a Criminal Intelligence supervisor with the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
She says during the last month they have been out in the community wearing their orange “Giving Back” shirts while building relationships. They started small, adding about 10 people at a time for a reason.
“So we can have a success story to tell, Mosquera says. “If we go out there and we make contact and we just have them sign a paper and we don’t do a follow up then they don’t believe in our program.”
After the person qualifies, they determine what specific resources they need. Mosqera says each assessment caters to the person individually. Next, they set milestones and cheer the person to success.
“Those milestones may be getting them their driver’s license, getting them a state ID, taking them through job skills training,” Mosquera describes.
Being a part of the program is voluntary. Mosquera says making sure each person truly wants to participate is key—especially for teens.
“It’s one thing for a parent to say you will do this, but when you’re child’s in school or they’re out hanging out in the neighborhood, they have all these different peers around them,” Mosquera says. “We want to make sure that we have the buy in from not only the parent, but from that child as well to let them know that they have a voice.”
They anticipated that gaining trust in the community would be one of the biggest challenges.
“A lot of people are hesitant because they’re like oh no, maybe it’s a trap,” Mosquera points out. She gave an example of one mother who was skeptical of the program. At first, she told her son not to sign up.
“Her thing was—they’re going to arrest you,” Mosquera describes. “That’s why we pushed to actually go out and make that contact and show them that we’re coming to your doorstep. We’re not coming here to arrest you. We’re coming here to help you.”
Mosquera says they are headed out soon to enroll a second round of people in the “Giving Back” program.
They are also looking for help from businesses and non-profits. The Sheriff’s Office is looking for partners in the area of childcare, job training, education, counseling and mental health. If you are willing to provide your resources please call the Sheriff’s Office—(706) 821-1000.
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