The events of the past weeks have caused me grave concerns and reflections on what we as public servants — as prosecutors — can do to curb the continuing onslaught of violence, protect our most vulnerable citizens, and restore confidence in our system of law and government (“Failure to protest: Review of Gerber tragedy is needed,” commentary, April 7).
Should we have known more? Could we have done more? Would it have made a difference?
We must aggressively pursue and prosecute those who endanger life and limb, and threaten harm to friend and foe. But long prison sentences still do not compensate those who are aggrieved by these ill deeds, or their loved ones, for their loss.
Debate rages on in Congress over guns and gun control, and still bodies drop in our city and on our streets. How do we stop insidious violence from occurring in the first instance?
We need to preach to the youngest children that guns are not for shooting people. Since 1994, the prosecutor’s office has sponsored the Victim’s Forum, a gun and violence-prevention program for students in grades five through 12, in an effort to sensitize them to the real-life tragedies and consequences of guns and violence.
The project was born after Joan Coleman, a former director of the Toledo/Lucas County Victim-Witness Assistance Program, watched her young grandson engaged in video games in which the objectives were death and destruction. Victim’s Forum reaches more than 10,000 students a year.
Our anti-bullying project reaches children in kindergarten through fourth grade. Teen dating violence prevention targets junior high and high school students.
In conjunction with Toledo Police Sgt. Anita Madison and the Toledo Community Initiative to Reduce Violence, we promote the anti-violence philosophy to criminals on probation and parole.
I cannot say that these efforts have saved a life or stopped a bullet, but these programs aim to stop violence from occurring. Perhaps shouting this message of prevention across the community, continuously and with resounding fervor, will make a difference, save a life, stop a bullet, or prevent yet another family from the torment of violence and death. We can only hope.
Lucas County Prosecutor
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