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Panel discusses root of Port City violence

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- After hundreds of shots fired in Wilmington this year local law enforcement has promised increased patrols, but a panel of doctors from UNCW says we can’t arrest our way out of the current crime wave.

"If you keep arresting people, and not trying to fix the problem, then it's just going to be a never ending cycle,” said Curtis Poole, Jr.

To try and break the cycle of violence in Wilmington, community leaders and convicted felons came together to try and identify potential solutions to the gang problem.

Many in the audience asked if stricter gun control was the answer, but Dr. Cecil Willis emphatically said no.

“The problem is that with the gun control laws they don't effect where the problem with the gun violence is,” said UNCW professor Cecil Willis. “Most of the guns used in violent crimes are actually obtained illegally."

Dr. Donyell Roseboro says that the increase in violence in the Port City isn’t because of the number of guns, but rather numbers in education. In 2011-12 the 85.6% of students from New Hanover Co. schools were career and college ready. For Black Males it was 64.2%. In 2012-13 the overall pass rate 60% and for Black males it was 22.4% after state officials switched the testing criteria.

"Teachers have to be connected to communities and families,” said UNCW professor Donyell Roseboro. “They have to know who their kids are but unfortunately teachers are overwhelmed. There's a lot to do, there's a lot of standardized testing, and a lot of data they have to keep up with. Sometimes that all takes away from taking care of young people’s emotional and social needs.”

Panel members agree that once we fix that narrative, we will have peace in the Port City.

If you have any ideas of how to break the cycle of violence in Wilmington you can make your voice heard at the next community meeting on December 2nd at Cape Fear Community College’s Union Station.

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