SAFE member talks about plan to reduce violence

Duke Turley (March 24, 2015)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — While overall crime is down in Grand Rapids, there are still violent incidents like the killing of a man outside the Chicken Coup early Sunday.

“Crime is down, but I mean, within one day, within one hour, one minute, crime could go back up,” said Duke Turley, explaining why the Safe Alliance for Everyone task force, which released its recommendations to Grand Rapids City Commissioners Tuesday, is relevant.

Turley grew up on Bemis Street SE, trying to avoid the kind of problems that put his own father in prison.

Now, at 24, Turley has a perspective that speaks to his generation.

“Just growing up in this neighborhood, just the history. Not all of it is good and not all of it is bad neither,” he said of the neighborhood he once called home.

So when it comes to curbing violence in the neighborhoods, SAFE turned to Turley.

“I think that’s going to make a huge difference. With me being a part of this, it gives the people that were targeting, you know, my age group, and my demographic that our voice is being heard,” said Turley.

And tasks force members listened to that voice.

Turley say there were the typical assumptions, like the belief that gangs have an unbreakable stronghold on young people in the neighborhoods.

It’s not true says Turley.

“It’s not as big of a deal as they’re making it out to be. We’re seeking opportunity. We are too. Not just those who graduated college, those who can’t get into college, those who didn’t graduate high school,” said Turley.

But residents of these neighborhoods have heard it all before.

A spike in crime is followed by a committee, maybe a march, and a report.  But it’s all pushed aside until the next spike in violence.

Turley’s convinced this time is different.

“It was more from the heart. It wasn’t all politics. It felt that everyone who set on the board really came to make a difference,” said Turley. “I want to be able to look back 20 years from now, 50 years from now and be able to say I was a part of making that happen. You know, seeing that through.”

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