In an effort to find solutions to the violent crime in Columbia, members of the mayor's task force on community violence reached out the community members who have been directly affected.
Those community members were invited to talk about their experience before the task force members at their meeting Wednesday night.
"There are things that we may not have considered, so I think talking to people who were directly involved have first hand experience," said councilman and co-chair of the task force, Michael Trapp.
Winona Coleman-Broadus is one of those people. Her son, Brandon Coleman, was shot and killed by Dustin Deacon in May of 2013. But charges were never filed because prosecutors said Deacon shot to protect his father.
Coleman-Broadus said that details of her situation aside, she is a mother who lost a son and wants the violence the stop. She said she feels a better relationship between the community and the police is key to getting the violence problem under control.
"I think that we need to do something to eliminate or alleviate the fear of police officers and see them once again as people in a position of respect," Coleman-Broadus told task force members Tuesday night.
Trapp said he thinks victims and perpetrators of crime share a common connection, which is why he wanted to hear from someone who was directly affected by an act of violence.
"We also know by looking at research, a lot of perpetrators and victims of violent crime look very similar demographically," Trapp said.
Members of the task force agreed and said hearing Coleman-Broadus' perspective helps them explore every aspect of violence and protect the community from more harm.
"As we look at identifying who is in the risk pool and what they are like, what are the hooks that we can put in the water to try to reach them," Trapp said.
Trapp said there are other people who have been directly involved and affected by acts of violence in the community. He said those residents may be available to speak before the task force at a later meeting.