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Spike in crime prompts law enforcement, outreach groups to urge parental, community involvement to stop crime

Posted at 7:42 PM, Jun 12, 2024

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (WXYZ) — The Washtenaw County Sheriff joined other police officials, local clergy, and community organizers in a push to stop the violence Wednesday amid a recent spike in crime.

"Be a parent. I want to be a parent first and a friend second to demonstrate love for your child to hold them accountable," said Sheriff Jerry Clayton.

Washtenaw County Prosecutor Eli Savit stressed that they are not looking to punish youth for minor issues, but that they will not tolerate violence, including gun crimes.

"If you are somebody who picks up a gun and you shoot it at somebody else, that case will be solved, you'll be arrested, and you'll go to jail," Savit said.

There have been 30 shootings in Washtenaw County this year, according to the sheriff's office. Detectives added that over 200 rounds were fired in all of those shootings. And four of the county's six homicides in 2024 have involved gun-related, street-level violence.

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Florence Roberson heads up S.U.R.E. Moms, a support group for mothers with children in the juvenile justice system.

"One of the things you'll find out, most of our mothers are mothering through their own trauma," Roberson told 7 News, adding that it's through their weekly meeting with mothers that they are able to support, fellowship, and connect them with resources to help their children.

Without intervention, Roberson said many mothers see their sons on two paths, one that leads to prison and the other to a grave.

Patricia Davis is an outreach worker for S.U.R.E. Moms who has also started her own non-profit, Free Indeed, to help families in crisis.

"Coming to the meetings gives us that voice to just be transparent, to be real, to be raw about where we're at," Davis said. "We cry together, we pray for one another."

For information on other programs and resources, contact the sheriff's community outreach coordinator by clicking here or calling (734) 973-4862.

Billy Ray Cole said it's by engaging with young people that they're able to help them choose non-violence over time behind bars. Cole is the executive director of Supreme Felons Inc. - an organization dedicated to breaking the cycle of incarceration.

"The hope is to save lives," said Cole, who encourages parents, grandparents, and guardians to get into their children's business. "Have the courage to step up and want to know what's happening in their lives. You want to know why your child is coming in at 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning? You should want to know why your child is associated with different members in the community."