CLEVELAND, Ohio -- A community is working together to try to make a positive change in one of the Cleveland’s crime-ridden neighborhoods.
It started with dialogue, followed by a plan to put those words into action for a safer Cleveland.
People of the Cleveland’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood voiced their concerns about safety inside Zion Hill Baptist Hill Baptist Church Saturday.
“Put your hands up high, if you have seen a gun in the last week,” Councilman Zach Reed asked a group of teenagers.
Four of them raised their hands.
"We mainly talked about the violence and having guns in our community and how we can change it as youth," 14-year-old Tamere McGhee said.
The meeting focused on ways the community and the police can work together to prevent crime. The federally funded program operates through the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland.
For many, a safer community starts with a better relationship between residents and the police.
“The youth don't respect the police and the police don't respect the youth. All the respect and trust between the youth and police is gone," Tamere said.
Beyond the dialogue and discussions, this group is dedicated to putting their words into action.
"We have block clubs already in place, residents for community change that's in place. There's a citizen's police academy,” concerned citizen Debra Lewis-Curlee said.
The police say their plan of action starts with listening to the people’s concerns.
"And, once we listen we can together make a plan -- not only the police department - a strategic plan, but include community persons in that plan," Cleveland Police 4th District Commander Deon McCauley said. "We will make a difference, but they have to be part of that difference and we have to gain their trust in order to do that."
The next step in the Safer Cleveland initiative is implementation.
Both the residents and the police said success will be measured if violent crime is reduced in the Mount Pleasant community.