Mount Vernon gun violence down 31 percent

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MOUNT VERNON -

Leaders in Mount Vernon teamed up with law enforcement from around the state Thursday to promote gun violence awareness month.

Mount Vernon officials say that gun violence can be reduced by taking strict steps to address it.

They say that crime rates in Mount Vernon are down 31 percent from last year, and overall crime is down 32 percent since 2011.

“The community is trusting our police department more,” says Police Commissioner Shawn Harris. “And giving us information, cooperating with our investigations. We can’t do this without them.”

He went on to say that the department is dedicating more resources to put more police where they are needed.

“The community will see police in the streets, at posts, bicycles, out of their cars,” he says.” “So that's what it is, deterrence.

Leaders say they are also focusing on cracking down on crime ahead of the summer months when gun violence is historically on the rise.

Along with law enforcement’s efforts, the mother of Shamoya McKenzie, who was killed on New Year’s Eve in 2016 when someone shot the 13-year-old in broad daylight, is taking a stand against gun violence.

Nadine McKenzie formed a scholarship in her daughter’s name with the goal of working with the community to ensure a safer community in Mount Vernon.

“I am not doing good inside,” she says. “But I have to do it for Shamoya because we want parents to understand that violence is not the answer.”

Police officials say that they are also initiating a gun buyback program to reduce the amount of guns on the streets.

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