It was a dramatic increase in violent crime and drug use that brought about the formation of Operation Our Town in 2007. Criminal activity became the subject of daily news headlines; burglaries, violent crime, shootings, gang activity and drug overdoses all escalated. Many of the forces driving this deviant behavior came from outside our community. It was like a poisonous disease, a cancer that spread quickly throughout our neighborhoods impacting our youth and endangering the lives of many.
A group of concerned citizens, determined to find a way to fight back, formed an exploratory group. What they discovered was most organizations, including law enforcement, did not have the resources needed to deter and reduce the criminal stronghold on our neighborhoods. It became clear that unless the community pulled together, we would lose our community to those profiting from drug and related criminal activities.
Within a few short months, dozens of local businesses committed financial and other support to “take back our neighborhoods.” Partnerships were forged between Operation Our Town and existing organizations with proven law enforcement, treatment and prevention programs.
Today, significant progress has been made to reduce drug activity and associated crime. But, the battle is not over. In fact, in many ways, it has just begun. If we, for one minute, let our guard down, we will find ourselves back where we started. We must remain diligent. We must remain unified as citizens. As business leaders we must continue to provide the leadership and resources necessary to continue to protect our children, our neighborhoods and our quality of life. Our communities’ future depends on it.