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St. Pete searching for solution to gun violence

Posted: 6:22 PM, Jan 05, 2016
Updated: 2016-01-05 18:22:18-05
City leaders in St. Petersburg are doing all they can to tackle the issue of gun violence that has plagued the city in recent months.
 
In fact, Police Chief Anthony Holloway has begun a series of sit down meetings with the mayor’s office and council members in an effort to hear their concerns and craft plans for change.
 
The police department along with the city will try to come up with a number of creative ways to handle what's become a major issue here over the past few weeks. The police chief told ABC Action News that his first plan of action is getting out in the community and working with people who live in neighborhoods hit by violence.
 
Even for a seasoned police vet like Holloway, the recent rash of violence is disturbing.
 
"One is too many. If we have one, that's one too many. So we have to figure out what caused these homicides," Holloway said.
 
With seven young men gunned down on the south side of the city last year, the community is calling for action. 
 
Holloway’s first step is a newly launched Neighborhood Enhancement Team. The officers are saturating hot spots with full force. Off-duty officers will be called in, others working overtime.
 
"I can tell you we've done this for the past eight days. We've made numerous arrests. We've recovered numerous guns off the streets," Holloway told ABC Action News.
 
The chief also told ABC Action News the department is beefing up community policing efforts. Holloway said he wants to get buy-in from the community.
 
Tony Young agrees.
 
Young has lived in south St. Petersburg for more than 50 years. He told ABC Action News he's tired of the bloodshed.
 
"My heart goes out to all the families, the families involved and to the community and we reach out to them in prayer," Young told ABC Action News.
   
Young also told ABC Action News that people in that community will have to be more trusting of the police: Reporting crimes and passing along concerns, helping to clean up their own neighborhood.
 
"I think that would serve to save lives and really curb a lot of the violence that is taking place," Young said.
 
For Holloway, it's simply the start of a major initiative to bring peace to city streets.
 
"We just need to have a presence out there to let people know that we're there and we're here to help the community," Holloway said.
 
Holloway is also part of a major task force in partnership with the ATF. They're set to launch a major media campaign addressing the illegal purchase of guns.
 
Holloway told ABC Action News that many of those guns bought and sold on the streets, along with those that are stolen, are the weapons that many times are used in the violence seen on the streets.