By Nyesha Stone
In the middle of last month, a three-year-old child was shot and murdered during a road rage incident. During the press conference, Assistant Milwaukee Police Chief Raymond Banks didn’t hold back his emotions when he expressed his rage about the situation. Banks pleaded with the community to come together to put an end to the crimes in the city.
Phil Hanyard, minister at Church of Christ, 5705 W. Hampton Ave., was so inspired by Banks plea that he created an event to help push that same message.
Stop the Violence: How I Can Help? was a six-person panel featuring Banks; Rick Polk, athletic director of Vincent High School and Founder/President of OWN It Mentoring; Dr. Denita Ball, Chief Deputy at the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Office (MSCO); Dr. Kweku Ramel Akyirefi Smith, License Psychologist/ Motivational Speaker and President of Blaquesmith Psychological Consultative Service, LLC., and Willie Murphy, Captain of Milwaukee Police Department District 7.
Instead of normal service, the church’s doors were open to the public to listen to what they can do to help fight this plaque of violence.
Banks reiterated, that this is a team effort and not just the police’s job to fix the community.
“People look for the police to solve the problem, but we’re only a small piece in the solution,” said Banks. He stated that the police have no control over how many people get killed.
Banks talked about the three-year old killing to explain in detail what the scene looked like and how he felt during his interview about the incident.
According to Banks, one of the most frustrating questions he received during that interview was if anyone else was hurt other than the three-year-old that night.
The siblings had to watch their mother cry and hold her dead child. All the children were crying.
To that question, Banks wanted to say, “Duh!”
Sometimes people have to hear the gory details to fully understand the issues facing their own communities.
Both Ball and Murphy have been in their field for over twenty years, and they take pride in the positions they hold.
Ball said the Sheriff Department only over sees the freeways, courts, parks, airports and jails, they “have to make sure the things we do have a positive impact.”
Ball said that everyone has a role to play in the betterment of the city, and state.
“Even if you haven’t been a victim yet, you could be,” said Ball. “We need to be outraged.”
“Let us fast and pray about the community and get up and do something about it,” she added.
Murphy has been captain for a little over year and he said he’s focused on bridging the Police Department’s connection with churches. Although there’s been little interaction and few partnerships, Murphy understands the role the churches play in the community which is why he keeps them informed.
In his district, he informs the churches of things such as “hot spots” where high criminal activity happens.
“It’s too heavy of a list to do on our own,” said Murphy. He said by informing the churches, they host, that churches have held their own violent-prevention events and initiatives such as faith walks, adopt-a-block and engaging with the youth.
Despite current efforts, the community knows more can be done to combat the high rates of violence.
For example, some would prefer that some of the money the MPD receives from the city’s budget be allocated to different sectors of the city such as health, which contains the Office of Violence Prevention, and public works.
While this is just one solution, the fact of the matter remains: more needs to be done from every side to prevent these horrific acts of violence.