Community members and city leaders packed into the African American Museum of Dallas on Saturday to discuss proactive ways of to stop violence in the community.
The event was organized by the Dallas Police Department after a recent wave of violent crime in the city. Last Saturday, an anti-violence march was held while the city's Safe Communities Task Force met Monday as a fully-formed team.
Sgt. Leroy Quigg with the Dallas Police Department's gang unit said one of the new things they're trying are "barber shop talks," which means honest and open conversations with the people they serve.
"That concept is actually trying to get into the community and talking to folks who are getting their haircuts," Quigg said. "Because, let's face it. A lot of individuals don't talk to cops. Only time they talk to them is going to jail."
Quigg said the hope was that knowing the person behind the badge would build trust with the community, discourage gang membership and reduce violence and crime.
It was a lifestyle Lamont Levels once knew, until he said Quigg gave him an opportunity to speak in schools to educate youth.
Levels became involved in gangs at 12 years old, and his life turned around when he was 23.
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"I was going to do a drug deal right here behind the carwash they closed down. I was shot in the head. I wasn't shot by robbers. I wasn't shot by a rival gang. I was shot by my own friends and left out to die," he said. "It left me blind completely. I have no eyesight."
Levels was given a second at life, which was something Janet Roberts' son Traveon Miller didn't get. He was shot and killed in the city's Dolphin Heights neighborhood. His mother told NBC 5, her 22-year-old had so much more life to live.
"He was doing the right thing. He was doing it. He was doing it, and I was so proud. And I'm still proud to be his mom," Roberts said.
Among the panelists who participated in Saturday's discussion were Police Chief U. Renee Hall, District Attorney John Creuzot and District Judge Brandon Birmingham.
City and county leaders said they recognized solutions wouldn't happen overnight, but they hoped conversations would be the start of less heartbreak and violence in the city.
"Please take this in love and understanding. The people committing crimes are the people in our communities," Hall said. "In order for us to be different, we have to be different. So, we have to let the police know -- even though I love the person who lives next door to me, I don't want the violent crime. I don't want the drugs. I don't want the activity that's perpetuated that's living next door to me."
Police said the event Saturday was only one of many future initiatives in an effort to curb violence.