SPARTANBURG, S.C. (WSPA)- A crime scene task force in Spartanburg is launching a new project to help ensure safety and bring the community together.
Officials with the Spartanburg Police Department said that in order to help solve crimes, they need people in the community to come forward with information. They said working together is the key to making the city as safe as possible.
Major Art Littlejohn said Spartanburg has been seeing an overall decrease in the amount of violent crime over the past 20 years. But, in July, he said things took a bit of turn.
“This year we did have an increase in our homicides, in July,” said Major Littlejohn.
He said having the community’s help in solving crimes makes the process of serving justice much faster.
“That’s sometimes where we struggle, where we’re not able to get the information that we need because people are not willing to give us that information,” he said.
United to Prevent Crime was created in August to help reduce crime as well as helping community members feel a sense of trust while reporting crimes.
“If we can build that with our public safety, with our first responders, I think we can help stop a lot of the crime,” said Michelle Gray, Trust Advocate with the group.
The organization has three subgroups: trust, community, and gangs. Gray said they want to help prevent crimes before they happen. A lot of that comes down to helping the youth that live in the city.”
“If we don’t help them see beyond the walls that they look into every day. If we don’t get to see them look past window that they see, then we won’t have a community to build,” said Gray.
Gray said they’re launching a new project called: Love, Not Fear to help.
“If you love where you live. If you love and have that trust in where you live, you won’t be fearful to be able to put on a forefront for who or what may be going on in your neighborhood that could actually help,” she said.
She said the organization partners with law enforcement and the Department of Juvenile Justice.
United to Prevent Crime is helping build back a village, where there’s trust, everyone has a voice, and solutions are made.
The group has accomplished holding events for the community, working with schools to have chaperones present at events and holding monthly meetings to discuss where change is needed.
Major Littlejohn said groups like these are essential in getting the community’s trust.
“Many of times, when the crime happens, we’re not there, and so, we have to have people on our side that encourage the community to give us information,” said Major Littlejohn.
If you have solutions or ideas, the United to Prevent Crime group has its next meeting on January 21, at noon, at the T.K. Gregg Community Center.