Elorza: City looking to use ARPA cash to help address rise in gun violence

Providence

PROVIDENCE, R.I (WPRI) — As police continued to investigate Providence’s 23rd homicide of the year on Monday, another shooting left a 20-year-old man in critical condition.

The city hasn’t seen this much deadly violence since 2009, when there were a record 25 homicides.

“It hits home very, very, very closely here,” Cedric Huntley said of the deadly shooting on Saturday that claimed the life of 33-year-old James Owen.

Huntley, the executive director of the Nonviolence Institute, said Owens was the cousin of one of his outreach workers.

“It’s unfortunate things happen like this, but it brings attention to the work that needs to be done moving forward from all of us,” Huntley added.

Mayor Jorge Elorza said the average person who’s not involved in any illegal activities should feel safe in the city.

“If you’re involved in a crime or gangs, there is just so much firepower, there are so many guns out there, it’s really dangerous out there for you,” he noted.

Elorza emphasized that 50 new police officers just graduated from the police academy, bolstering the department’s patrols.

“On top of that, it’s important for people to see the police officers, for people to feel safer having that police presence,” Elorza added. “We are providing more of that as well, and it’s addressing it from all angles.”

Crime data shows shootings in Providence were trending downward for a decade until 2020. As of Tuesday, 77 people have been shot so far in 2021.

The mayor said the city is looking at using money from the American Rescue Plan Act to fund programs that aim to prevent gun violence by addressing some of the root causes. He said he’ll have more details on those plans by the end of the month.

City Councilman David Salvatore said it’s time to have more conversations as a city.

“This should not be a conversation that we have once a year when we see an increase in violent crime,” Salvatore said. “It should be had all the time, conversations should be had with constituents and these young people who are relying on pulling a trigger to resolve their differences.”

The two recent shootings remain under investigation, and no suspects or arrests have been announced thus far.

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