OUR OPINION: Cooperation reinforces confidence in youth crime prevention efforts

Published 8:00 am Friday, February 24, 2023

Something uncommon happened during the Warren County Board of Supervisors’ Feb. 13 working meeting.

Vicksburg Mayor George Flaggs Jr. approached the board with a formal partnership request. The notion that the city and county would partner on a project is nothing novel; in a county with only one municipality, that’s the nature of the beast.

What made this meeting of the minds particularly significant, however, was what Flaggs proposed.

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The mayor wants the city to work with the county and Vicksburg Warren School District as part of the next phase of the Youth Violence Prevention Program. An interagency cooperative approach, Flaggs said, would only benefit the youth of Vicksburg and Warren County.

What’s more is, during the working session, the Supervisors and Flaggs traded ideas for what this innovative partnership might look like: who would run it, who would staff it, how the program could achieve maximum sustainability.

While no public discussion on the program has occurred since this meeting — as the mayor’s ad hoc committee is still diligently working to formulate its proposal — one thing is clear.

The Youth Violence Prevention Program has legs. It’s not “just talk.” The talk is accompanied by action, and rapid action at that. Flaggs told The Post the beginnings of a program could be in place by next fall.

By involving and actively listening to people in both the city, county and education arenas, the chances of making real change in the lives of our troubled youth increase exponentially. At the suggestion of the Board of Supervisors President Kelle Barfield, the program is anticipated to involve mostly existing organizations.

This will avoid the pitfall of “reinventing the wheel” and will instead create an environment that will maximize the effectiveness of services already available to area children.

It goes without saying that Flaggs likes to dream big — a trait that’s benefitted the city over his terms as mayor. This time, it seems, the dream of reducing youth violence and guiding at-risk children through their lives is closer than ever to becoming reality.