'The youth need help': Tampa residents discuss solutions to gun violence during crime forum

More than a dozen residents and community members spoke up during the Tampa Police Department’s Violent Crime Forum Friday night.

Chief Mary O’Connor hosted the program in the community for the first time as another way to reach more people.

"We don't know that unless we come out to the community and we ask them, you know, what they need from the police department," O’Connor said.

TPD reports firearms offenses are down fifty-percent when compared to this same time last year.

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"The bottom line is, is that some of the solutions that we've heard over the last couple of months is zero tolerance on illegal guns on the street. And we responded to that, we responded to that in a number of different ways," Chief O’Connor said.

Those who attended agreed that getting a handle on gun violence will involve reaching youth.

"What we need right now, we need somebody to do something to help the youth. That's it. The youth need help," one speaker said.

TPD hosted the event at Eastside Deli & Grocery. The owner Eric Adams says since being released from prison more than a decade ago he’s dedicated his life to improving the neighborhood he was born and raised in.

"I’ve been on the other side of crime, so I can relate to that as well. But I feel like if you could just reach one kid, you know, and help them, you know, change their life around and, you know, I made a difference," Adams said.

TPD plans to hold another community forum next month in the same neighborhood. It will also hold its first gun buy back since 2015 next week.