CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KWWL) — If you pick up the latest Time Magazine, you’ll see Cedar Rapids listed on the cover.
It’s in the spotlight for being home to a mass shooting, one of 253 across the country this year cited in the magazine. A mass shooting is considered to be four or more people shot and injured besides the shooter, according to the Gun Violence Archive.
The city got on the map for what happened at the Iowa Smoke Shop parking lot back in May. Four teenagers were shot, two of them killed by a 26-year-old who is now awaiting his day in court.
Cedar Rapids is one of many cities getting national attention for mass shootings, but the leaders in the city say one event, although horrific and senseless, is not the whole picture.
Police Chief, Wayne Jerman said overall crime is down this year, compared to last, “The shots fired numbers have decreased and again the violent crime numbers are on the downward trend.”
In 2018 there were 117 shootings where property was damaged or someone was injured. This year, that number is down 16%. So far there have been 51 incidents in 2019. Statistics for murder or manslaughter are also down with three events compared to the average of four events for the last five years.
“It’s a small core group that is committing these targeted attacks against, again, a very small group and that’s what we’re really focusing on eliminating,” said Chief Jerman.
The shooting in May was one of the targeted attacks. Jerman calling it one of the worst, more serious during his seven years at the department.
Much of the violence has been committed by young people. Mayor Brad Hart says that’s something they’re trying to address.
“The city, the county, and the school district have created a fund to support organizations and programming that we think will help address youth violence, gun violence,” said Hart.
Outreach has also been a big focus for police as well as getting guns off the street. This year the P-C-A-T a neighborhood task force has taken 21 illegally-owned handguns. However, they need the community’s help to keep them off.
“We’ve had a number of guns stolen from unlocked motor vehicles. It’s just unacceptable, leaving a lethal weapon in a car, in an unlocked car.”
About 25 guns have been reported stolen this year from unlocked cars. Jerman also says burglary numbers is another area the department is working to decrease by encouraging residents to lock up at night.
Both Chief Jerman and Mayor Hart say they don’t believe the Time Magazine cover represents Cedar Rapids as a whole. They do, however, take the issue of gun violence seriously, highlighting the youth outreach programs started this year by the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation.