JACKSON, Mich. (WLNS)—Sitting side by side more than one hundred people banded together to hear how gun violence is hurting the community.

“In 2020 the Jackson Police Department received 322 calls of shots fired. The highest number since JPD began it’s current method of recording gun crime stats in 2016,” said Jackson Undersheriff, Chris Simpson.
For people like Curtis Bridges it’s more than an eye-opening statistic, it’s something he’s lived. Years ago he found himself living a gang lifestyle. It ultimately put him in prison. Now, he’s working to help younger generations.

“Two prison beds you know under 30 years and I see the young guys that’s headed to prison and my job as a man, my job as a God body is to stop that and to share my experience, my testimony to the guys to stay off the streets,” said Bridges.

He’s not alone in his fight. Others like Jarmain Merritt traveled from Chicago to offer solutions he’s seen be successful in his own community, and he believes it would work in Jackson. It’s called ‘Cure violence.’ The idea behind it is simple, use people with real-life past experience to mentor anyone caught up in a lifestyle of violence.

“You got to have relationships with individuals. Once that relationship is established they will listen with you and talk with you and take a chapter out of your book and apply it to their book,” said Trainer for Cure Violence Global, Jamain Merritt.

Jackson County Undersheriff Chris Simpson says it’s up to law enforcement to protect and serve while also working to build trust in the community.

“Obviously being more transparent, and obviously building relationships. When you come to a problem that is so massive and has so many legs to it like community violence, you know we need to have relationships with our community,” said Simpson.
Leaders say today’s summit is just the beginning to opening up the conversation to everyone about how to bring and end to violence.