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Columbia PD officials try to get ahead of crime with ‘Ceasefire Offender Call-in’

Updated: May. 26, 2021 at 11:21 PM EDT
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COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - As the echoes of gun violence ring out in different parts of the city, tonight, local leaders are calling for a ceasefire.

“This strategy is identifying individuals who are most vulnerable, or susceptible to being either a victim of violent crime or being a suspect in a violent crime,” said Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook.

After one missed year because of the pandemic, this year’s 5th annual Ceasefire Columbia Offender Call-in was held at the convention center downtown. 35 people were invited to take the first step in turning their lives around.

“Tonight’s about choices,” Holbrook said. “They’ll hear the consequences of bad choices, and they’re going to also hear about the many opportunities that we’re going to provide them with to make good choices.”

The goal is to connect with low-level offenders and people on probation or parole to help break the cycle of recidivism.

While many of the people in attendance have charges that range from gun offenses to robberies, Chief Holbrook says tonight they have a chance to change. But, only if they decide to take it.

“If they step out of line, we’re going to do everything within our power in the law enforcement community to hammer them...there’s going to be consequences for it,” Holbrook said. “But we’re also going to do everything in our power to make sure they’re successful and don’t re-offend.”

At the event, participants were given direct access to groups that provide employee health, drug and alcohol counseling, mentor programs, and more.

Columbia Police Department officials say each year of this meetup, only about one-third of the participants have gone on to become repeat offenders.

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