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Law enforcement, local officials host forum to discuss gun violence in the Midlands

The goal of the forum was to start a dialogue about issues pertaining to gun violence in the Midlands and discuss possible solutions.

HOPKINS, S.C. — Fifth Circuit Solicitor Byron Gipson hosted a gun violence and juvenile crime forum on Tuesday. 

Gipson was joined by State Representatives Jermaine Johnson, Wendy Brawley, Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook, DJJ Acting Director Eden Hendrick and Vincent C. Pallozzi of the US Department of Justice.

The goal of the forum was to start a dialogue about issues pertaining to gun violence in the Midlands and discuss possible solutions.

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"We've had 29 murders in Richland County, we solved all 29. It's not solving the murders that's the issue, it's preventing them so we need to look at how we can prevent this from ever happening not catching them after it's over with," said Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, "It's too late then because we already lost somebody. We need to focus more on what are we gonna do to prevent these young people from going out here and using these guns." 

They also discussed ways to improve relationships between the community and law enforcement.

RELATED: 'This is a public health crisis': Community leaders look to address gun violence

"We all come at it from different angles but what's most important is we individually can't solve the problem, we can collectively together and that's where we get our strength," said Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook.

Gipson said the forum is intended to be the beginning of more conversations to come surrounding gun violence and community relations. At the end of the forum, community members were given the opportunity to exchange information with the law enforcement and local officials on the panel.

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