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Looking to increase the peace

on March 23, 2010

Crime may still be a constant concern, but not all is normal in Richmond.

The energy and will to confront crime with a peaceful message is on the upswing.

“We are part of the presence,” said Kevin Mccullar, an agent with the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety. The department launched in 2007 as an intervention tool against violent crime. “We are going to continue to be out in the communities where we need to be,” Mccullar said. 

Mccullar led about a dozen residents and local church leaders into the Pullman Point apartment complex in South Richmond on Friday. Earlier that day, two people were injured when gunfire erupted within the gated complex, Mccullar said.

Their mission was simple, and similar to other outreach efforts conducted by church and civic leaders all over the city since a Feb. 14 shooting in a local church – to offer hope through prayer, conversation, and information about local resources.

Amid the red-and-tan townhouses, residents clustered on lawns and parking lots in the late afternoon light. Mccullar and his volunteers set up folding tables decked with Bibles and fliers.

A few residents ambled over, but the tension over the shooting earlier in the day was still palpable. A police car crept up, and an officer strode toward a crowd of young men, which hurriedly dispersed.

“We’re out here just trying to make an impact,” said Larry Lowe, a longtime resident. “If we can just kind of direct and save one (person), that’s a lot.”

Residents were generally receptive to the outreach workers, who later went door-to-door to greet them and offer prayer.

Children played in the grass and rode bikes and scooters, most under the watchful eyes of mothers who stood on their porches, monitoring the activity.

Keandreay Owens was one such child. Owens, 8, said her father died a few years ago, but her mother insisted that she do well in school.

“I like to do math,” Owens said, smiling, her pink shirt matching her hair braids. She said she hoped to go to college.

Marshelle Wilburn, a volunteer who also works in a downtown youth mentorship program, said the renewed outreach efforts in the city were a step in the right direction.

“You see so many young people in these communities,” Wilburn said. “Young people who need the community’s help in ensuring they have a better future.”

Mccullar said the visit to the apartment complex would be the first of a series of four expeditions led by the Office of Neighborhood Safety over the next month. The office recently added three staff members to conduct street outreach, bringing its total workforce to seven.

“We’ll be back,” he said. “People tend to respond to relationships better than they do anything else.”

1 Comment

  1. […] Muccular, an agent with the city’s Office of Neighborhood Safety, works to quell violence in the community for a living. But Friday, it was personal. His friend, whom Muccular identified only as a 36-year-old man, was killed and another man was wounded in a drive-by shooting in the 300 block of South Ninth Street. […]

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