Gun violence declared public health crisis by city of B’ham

Updated: Feb. 28, 2019 at 4:03 PM CST
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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The City of Birmingham declared gun violence a pubic health crisis Thursday.

“We have been desensitized to gun violence,” Mayor Randall Woodfin said.

Woodfin wants to change that,

One way is by showing the pain from these homicides. To do that, the city will be offering public service announcements with mothers and families who lost loved ones.

“Being a mother who lost a child to gun violence is devastating.” said Carolyn Johnson Turner, who lost her son to gun violence.

The mayor also wants to see Block Watch Programs beefed up. Crime Prevention Officers will be available for meetings to teach people to look for crime and report it.

“If you live in a neighborhood, you are part of the neighborhood. You should be concerned about what goes on in the neighborhood.” said Charles Geter, Block Watch Captain of Germania Park.

Neighborhood presidents who have seen the violence and heard the gun fire believe this is a step in the right direction, but it will take more.

“Their child is no longer on this earth and it’s happening every day. PSAs are a start because they remind us, but we have to do is get involved,” said Sherry Lewis, who lives in the Belview Heights community.

Lewis says her neighbors look out for each other and report problems to police.

“When we see something. we have to say something. We don’t have a choice anymore because those PSAs showed us today, there’s a growing number,” she said.

You don’t have to tell the head of UAB’s Trauma Center there is a problem. Dr. Jeff Kerby treated a gunshot victim Wednesday night and another one Thursday morning.

“The number of gunshot wounds we have seen in our trauma center has doubled in the last five years. That rate is not slowing down. It’s increasing every single year,” Dr. Kerby said.

In mid-March, the city will team with UAB to promote a Stop the Bleed program, which aims to teach people how to put on a tourniquet to save lives.

Jefferson County’s Health Office says this is not a just another public relations campaign.

“Hold us accountable. I think it’s easy to have a campaign, a big announcement, so we are not going to do this rah, rah and then it falls by the wayside,” Dr. Mark Wilson said.

Dr. Wilson said they will look at various programs to see which ones work and which will work in certain communities. But again, public involvement is key.

The Woodfin Administration is calling their anti-gun violence the Peace Campaign. They also use the #IncreasePeace. To sign up for classes to learn to stop major bleeding, click here. You can also learn more by clicking here. People can text Peace to 888-777 to get updates on ways to get involve in the neighborhood.

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