Charleston Victim Assistance Commission hopes to help heal and create change
CHARLESTON, WV (WSAZ) – Crime in Charleston has not gone unnoticed by residents old and new to the city.
“There’s all kinds of violence here, people are fighting and going on,” said Neil Lambka, who moved to the West Side from Charleton over the summer.
“When I moved here, I had two sons. It was really nice for them growing up,” said Marguret Jeffries, who has lived in Charleston all her life.
“Over time, it got a little more violent.”
With the crimes also come their victims and their loved ones. It was people like them who motivated Ward 6 Councilwoman Deanna McKinney to introduce a resolution to create the Charleston Victims’ Assistance Commission program, which was approved by City Council in mid -september.
McKinney, who lost her own son to gun violence eight years ago, said she hoped the commission would provide victims’ families with services like the one she needed as she grieved.
“You have all these shootings, you have a lot of overdoses and you have sanity,” she said. “It’s so many things that make us fall into despair or a dark place where we can’t get out sometimes and we need help.”
McKinney said there are plenty of opportunities with the commission.
“I also hope to start support groups, and you know, start to uplift our community a little more, be more supportive in case you need rent, food, utilities or anything from the gender, preventing you from being an asset to society,” she said. “We want to make sure we help you.”
The seven-member commission will be made up of mayoral appointees, including the police chief, two city council members and four Charleston residents who have expressed an interest in deterring violence. According to the resolution, one resident should have experience as a social worker or behavioral health specialist and another should be a spiritual leader.
McKinney said the composition of the commission was intentional.
“A lot of times we just want to put things on one person and a lot of times we need different opinions,” she said. “Other times people will sit down and say, hey, I feel like this, it will say, I felt like this. But we are all coming together collectively, and I believe we can effectively help our visitors. , instead of being a single person.
Residents hope the commission could get city leaders to look at other factors that may be driving violent crime.
“I say give to people, like the homeless in homes and shelters,” Lambka said. “Keep in mind to put them in shelters so more money is needed for shelters.”
“I suggest they put a police substation here, a police substation so they at least have the presence here in the neighborhood,” Jeffries said.
McKinney thinks it’s possible.
“Once we have the support groups, and we’ll have people who can actually focus on this issue,” she said.
“Then we get together to talk about the problems we have, it can be effective.”
Read the resolution here.
Copyright 2022 WSAZ. All rights reserved.