NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It’s a new way to curb violence, specifically in North Nashville, focused on bridging community partnerships and Metro Nashville.

“North Nashville is where we saw the uptick, but now, things are not as bad as they used to be, but they can be better because one life and one situation is one too many,” explained Ron Johnson, the Community Safety Coordinator through Mayor John Cooper’s office.

Johnson was tapped for the brand new position in March, as part of a $3 million community safety pilot initiative. The goal is to bring together experts from neighborhoods, local businesses and the government.

On Monday, the advisory board in charge of the North Nashville Violence Interruption Pilot program met to hear a proposal from Gideon’s Army. The organization known for its work in the North Nashville community was one of three to pitch ideas to the board. The purpose is to give them the opportunity to ask questions about how the public funds will be used if chosen. It’s all centered around how to curb violence in North Nashville.

It’s a topic those like Johnson take personally.

“Being one who has experienced my mom being murdered, and I will I’ve until the day I die knowing that that’s a day that I wish I could change, but I can’t so we have to do what we can with what we have,” said Johnson.

“To achieve community safety, we must harness the power of a community working as one,” Mayor Cooper said. “This is an opportunity to invest in partners who are doing innovative work, to support them, and take their successful models even further in Nashville.”

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Pictures of victims were shown through the meeting, all of the young people who were shot, and left the community grieving. The organizations were pitching ideas from creating mentorship programs for teens to educating the public on how to provide for the next generation.

“Throughout Metro Nashville, we know we’re up from where we were last year at this time, and so therefore it’s going to take us all, that means everybody,” said Johnson.

The goal is to help communities that often have a history of violence in an effort to ease tensions before anyone pulls a trigger. It’s a mission Reverend Bruce Maxwell agreed is needed.

“It seems as though the city and cities throughout Tennessee are becoming like the wild wild west. You just strap on a gun and somebody says something,” said Rev. Maxwell.

Maxwell talked about the “good ole days,” as he remembered playing with fake guns as a kid, but he says back then, he always knew where to draw the line. Gun violence is something he knows all too well, after his cousin, Anthony Rucker, was shot and killed in 2020 in North Nashville. His killer has never been found.

“It was a very traumatic experience of course for the entire family. At that time, we didn’t know anything about the rhyme or reason behind what took place, and that was what our main concern was why? We’ve never gotten the answer as to why,” said Maxwell.

Maxwell explained, that even though it’s hard to maintain hope that Rucker’s killer will be brought to justice, he believes funding and planning to help end violence, are needed.

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The advisory board will decide on what organizations will get funding this month. The proposals will then go before the health department for final approval. Johnson hopes the initiative will be up and running before the end of the year.