Sunday, July 15, 2018
Public safety

Safe Summit '17 aims to curb violence in county's most challenging areas

UNIVERSITY AREA — An inaugural all-day free workshop aims to prevent violence in communities while building relationships between residents and law enforcement members.

The Safe Summit '17 — Violence Prevention Conference will be held from 10 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, June 3 at University Mall. Presented by Safe & Sound Hillsborough, a collaborative of government, law enforcement and community agencies, the conference is funded by corporate donations and expected to draw about 300 attendees.

Executive director Freddy Barton said the event is geared to adults and teens with an opening speaker, a variety of workshops and interaction between youth, adults and law enforcement personnel.

He said organizers, who have worked almost a year planning the event, are having it at the beginning of summer because youth who are out of school with nothing to do can get into trouble. They hope to head off problems with suggestions of positive activities and understanding of how to avoid situations that can result in violence.

"At the end of the day, we want more knowledge, respect, understanding and commitment to work with our kids," Barton said.

Public defender Julianne Holt, who serves as chairwoman of Safe & Sound, stated in a letter for the program for participants that "we will be exploring our community successes and collectively creating a better tomorrow for everyone."

Safe & Sound was an outgrowth of The Hillsborough County Community Violence Prevention Collaborative started in 2013 by former Hillsborough County Commissioner Kevin Beckner. It operates on a budget of about $500,000 annual.

Barton said Safe & Sound decided to target four areas of the county first — communities with the highest incidents of violence and data that showed physical, mental and fiscal conditions connected to violence. Those areas are East Tampa, University Area, parts of East County and parts of South County.

"We want to address the causes of what makes a youth feel they have no choice but to grab a gun or no choice but to drop out of school," Barton said.

The event also will include:

• Freddy's Challenge where youth can have their picture taken with a law enforcement member and post on social media. (The three with the most "likes" will win prizes).

• Presentation of the Kevin Beckner Community Builder Award to community leaders. The award includes a grant for them to put on an event in their community.

• Awarding of scholarships to four youths.

• Recognition of 25 students who completed a financial literacy course through Regions Bank.

• Information about re-entry programs to jobs for those with barriers to employment.

Barton said attendees will receive a voucher for a free lunch at one of the vendors at the mall. Transportation also will be available for those in the four key areas.

"We are getting rid of every barrier," he said, adding the organizers are planning on making the summit an annual event.

For more information about the collaborative, see safeandsoundhillsborough.org.

Contact Lenora Lake at [email protected]

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