Violence interrupters hitting the streets of Dallas to combat rising crime received training Tuesday from experienced violence interrupters from other cities.
All of these people already have a background in crime, but now they are working to prevent it.
Several Dallas shootings and deaths on the 4th of July demonstrated the need for violence intervention.
Eyone Williams has done interruption work in Washington, DC after spending 17 years in prison for a killing.
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“Some of this work is not a textbook thing. It's not, call the police, call a doctor, call anything. You've got to figure it out on the spot,” Williams said.
Damion Harrell was a student in Tuesday's training. He’s a Dallas native who had a 12-year sentence for crime.
“I feel like the reason I'm a good candidate for this job is because, me growing up, I didn't listen to nobody about what I'm going through,” Harrell said.
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On the streets of Dallas today, many other young people face a life of crime and violence.
The agency called Youth Advocate Programs (YAP) was selected by the City of Dallas to run the interruption program that's called “Dallas CRED” in this city. The Dallas violence interrupters wear orange shirts as a beacon of safety.
The trainers have worked with YAP in similar successful programs in their cities.
Le’Var Mullen from Baltimore served seven years in prison.
He described a situation where his own son was an alleged killer and then the next day a murder victim.
Mullen said he put his emotions aside and stepped into that situation, just as his interrupter work was beginning, to avoid more retribution for the violence.
“Sometimes people don't want to hear, you know, ‘don't shoot, don't be dying,’ especially in our culture. We’ve got to be honest and live with ourselves in doing this work. My primary role in that situation was just to show up for support,” Mullen said.
Damion Harrell said his own experience tells him when violence is about to happen and he has been able to successfully step in to stop it.
“As you grow you start to learn, everything is about choices,” Harrell said. “You're going to get a reward for your choices or you're going to get a consequence from it.”
Now, Harrell said he is working to help other people avoid bad choices he made by providing alternate paths to job opportunities and better choices.
YAP received $800,000 from the City of Dallas for the Dallas CRED program.
It is one of several efforts in the current city budget to prevent crime aside from spending on police.