‘Violence interrupters’ looking to transform lives, change Beatties Ford area

They’re in the streets Tuesday through Saturday focusing on high-risk teens and young adults.
The Violence Interrupters focus on high-risk teens and young adults as they work to build trust within the community.
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 11:35 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - In an effort to curb crime in the Beatties Ford area, ‘violence interrupters’ were introduced to the community.

Last year, Youth Advocate Programs’ Alternatives to Violence program was launched by the city of Charlotte and Mecklenburg County with the goal to help stop violent crime in the Beatties Ford area.

A big part of that program now: the violence interrupters.

They’re in the streets Tuesday through Saturday focusing on high-risk teens and young adults.

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As of April, their caseload of people to check in on was 19. YAP says they’ve also completed 10 conflict mediation since January.

“We just don’t do violence interruption. We are advocates. We do court support. We refer people to mental health services,” said Leondra Garrett.

Real issues and building trust to stop crime before it happens.

“Over the span of trust, then they’ll tell you, ‘hey this is going to happen. Can you talk to such and such, or hey they’re doing this or can you help with,” said Garrett.

Garrett says that trust has helped decrease crime. But it still does happen and when it does, they are there.

As they continue to walk the streets, they’re able to hear from everyone.

“What are some of the things you hear?”

“We getting ready to get evicted, we got 30 days. Is there something y’all can do? My family doesn’t have any food,” Garrett replied. “We just had a conversation with a young lady coming to visit a memorial and letting us know that my nephew needs help.”

The goal is to not only transform lives but change the community.

“What do you feel like the impact has been in the community?”

“Less shootings, less violence, you know, more people being excited about being involved in this community and coming out with us and seeing us out here or themselves going out and knocking on the neighbor’s door saying hey, are you okay? Or if they see something, they say something,” Garrett replied.

She also talked about their success stories. High school students, who for some they didn’t think would graduate, but did and now have college scholarships.

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