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Residents react to Miami-Dade County's latest crime initiative

Plan includes prayer, community policing, new ideas

The latest effort to curb violence in Miami includes fairs where expunging criminal records and job placement happened simultaneously.
The latest effort to curb violence in Miami includes fairs where expunging criminal records and job placement happened simultaneously.

MIAMI – A new crime initiative in Miami-Dade County is getting mixed reaction from residents in crime-ridden communities.

The plan put together by pastors, police and politicians include combining prayer, community policing and new ideas.

In a Miami Gardens barber shop, Harvey Wesley said he doesn't have high hopes for any plan put forward by police.

"It won't work. There is a disconnect between the police and the people," said Wesley.

Wesley said the true power belongs to the people who live in the crime-ridden neighborhoods.

"Prayer only works sometime. We the people have to come together, we only fight," said Wesley.

From her porch in Liberty City, Evelyn Ramsey has seen a lot in her 50 years. She is hopeful about things changing for the better.

"Guns are the main thing, if they can get control of the guns," said Ramsey.

Another component of the plan is how to get more residents to come forward with information that can help close cases.

Miami resident Mike Clark said that's going to be tough. He said trust is a major factor.

"Some of them feel like the cops are not going to do anything. Everyone is a suspect to them," said Clark.

One component of the initiative fairs that combine services for expunging criminal records and job placement. Activist Desmond Mead said they need to take it one step further and remove the question about felony convictions on job applications.

"If you remove that box, you give that person the opportunity to be judged on their ability to do the job," said Meade.

Terry Rutherford's son was the innocent victim of a shooting. She welcomes any solutions to reduce crime.

"We face death row every day being in this community. I think it's an excellent idea because being responsive to a community that is so hardened with so many disasters, we need this presence," said Rutherford.

The first of the prayer vigils was held Monday night in Miami Gardens. Job placement fairs will be announced in the coming weeks.

Follow Neki Mohan on Twitter @NekiMohan

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