CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) – Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department Chief Johnny Jennings addressed recent incidents of youth violence in an exclusive interview with WBTV on Friday.
In recent months there have been several deadly shootings involving teenagers in Charlotte.
Just days ago, police charged Brenice Gibson, an 18-year-old Harding University high school student, and a 15-year-old in connection with the murder of 17-year-old Andy Hernandez. Hernandez was shot and killed shortly after 12:00 pm on June 4 in the 5700 block of Leake Street.
During Friday’s interview, Jennings noted that guns have become too accessible to teenagers in Charlotte.
“Access to guns and firearms is available and this doesn’t mean that I take any position on the second amendment or anything like that, but the fact is that firearms are too accessible for our young people today. in day. I’ve had kids tell me that they can have a gun in their hands in a couple of hours if they wanted to get a firearm and that is disturbing and very concerning to us as law enforcement officers,” the police chief said.
Jennings also discussed why some young people use guns to resolve disputes.
“Some of the reasons are quite simple. They are common disputes over a woman, for example, or they are online arguments that they might have through social media. It is a lack of respect. These are things that you wouldn’t really look at and say, ‘this results in gun violence,’” Jennings explained. “This is something we see across the country: the access to firearms that these young people have and their willingness to use them to resolve minor disputes.”
Jennings was also asked about the mindset some teens may have when preparing to commit crimes.
“You can’t help but think that maybe they’re not thinking about some of the consequences. Maybe they’re too quick to resort to violence and then you have to think, ‘Where do they get this information? Is it from video games? Is it from social networks? Is it just because of the things they see in public? Is it becoming acceptable for young people to resort to violence?’ I certainly hope that is not the case. I certainly hope it’s something that we can control as a whole community and make this change a little bit,” Jennings said.
The CMPD chief also spoke about what his department is doing to combat the recent wave of youth violence.
“One thing we have to do is keep trying to get guns off the streets. We have to educate adults on how to secure their firearms because some of these firearms are actually being stolen and then put on the market for these young children to have access to, so as we go into the summer, we have many initiatives. that we are going to look specifically for illegal weapons on our streets,” Jennings explained.
He noted that while police officers will work to keep guns off the streets, law enforcement will still need the help of community members to prevent youth violence.
“We are a small piece of the puzzle. We cannot make much of a difference without the help of our entire community to address this youth violence,” the chief said.
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