CU Fresh Start Call-In Held

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Champaign- There have been 84 shooting incidents in Champaign-Urbana since January 1,2016. It's a shocking number, and the reason the Champaign Community Coalition began CU Fresh Start.

CU Fresh Start is a different approach to dealing with gun violence in the community. It focuses on offenders with a history of violence, to give them a choice to choose to put the guns down. "This is our start, we are telling the world that it must stop tonight, and we are doing everything we can to make sure our gun violence ends" said Tracy Parsons, Community Coalition Facilitator.

To begin this process, the community holds "call-ins" with these offenders. The first call-in featured 9 men from the community who were on parole or prohibition. They heard from community members, law enforcement and service providers, all aimed at letting these men know they have options to leave the violence behind and become apart of the community. "They made some bad choices, but there is an opportunity to make a better choice" said Rev. Rickey E. Parks, Pastor at Missionary Baptist Church.

While this program does offer to help these past offenders get on the right track, it does not take away anything they have done in the past. "You don't get a free pass because they are now participating the bottom line is we need the gun violence to stop so our overall objective is to get the gun violence to stop tonight" said Urbana Police Chief, Patrick Connolly.

While there were 9 men at the first meeting, it is estimated that 3 of them will take the opportunity to receive help from the community. "The data says is about 30 percent of the guys will chose to be involved and do something different. And for those that don't chose to make the choice, we are supporting law enforcement in full force to get them out of our community" said Parsons.

The Champaign-Urbana community hopes that this is just the beginning to putting an end to the gun violence in the community.

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