The city of Fayetteville is pouring thousands of dollars to offer more support to young people. A $70,000 grant is being given to the Fayetteville police department to address juvenile delinquency.
Advocates say it's clear why some teens in Fayetteville are struggling with delinquency and gun violence.
"From being in Fayetteville for the past two years, one thing I do notice is a lot of idle-mindedness going on. A lot of emotions, raw emotions in our children. A lot of times this energy is creative. But if it's not directed in a certain way, it's going to go on to gun violence," said Casey Moore, the vice president of Roots Mentoring.
That's why activists like Moore and Demetria Murphy of Heal the Ville Youth Diverse Intervention Group are closely eyeing how the city plans to use its new grant to help teens. The Fayetteville Police Department was awarded the grant from the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention. The department says it will use the money to hold community workshops, develop youth programs as well as provide mentorship, therapy and life skill classes.
Advocates credit the police department for their effort and past support. But they stress the importance of meeting young people where they're at--and addressing the root causes of their harmful behavior. Murphy challenges the city to do more community engagement before deciding how to spend this kind of money.
"I think the first component should be a strategic meeting with organizations that are out here, boots on the ground, doing the work with the youth because they know what the youth wants. We can't continue to assume what they want. Let them tell us what they want," Murphy said.
Fayetteville police released this response about the grant: "The Fayetteville Police Department is receptive to ideas. From the many community events we host to the ones we attend, our focus is on the public safety of our citizens both youth and adults. We're fortunate to have a dedicated team of professionals with various backgrounds and training who help us develop programming for our citizens."
The grant is expected to be adopted by the city at Thursday night's council meeting.
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