The head of Meridian's largest program for youth says he's outraged by recent crimes. For more than 20 years Ricky Hood has worked with the Boys and Girls Club of East Mississippi. He says he's disturbed by the fact that juveniles are accused in many of the crimes. Although multifaceted, he this problem must be solved!
'I'm concerned. I'm 6 '7' and 300 pounds and I'm looking over my shoulder.'
East Mississippi Boys and Girls Club Director, Ricky Hood says the problem with juveniles and crime has gotten out of control.
'Our police force is really overworked right now. That's my personal opinion. Let law enforcement do their job, but we have to help law enforcement do their job.'
Hood says that starts by people getting to know their neighbors.
'It's a part for everybody in the community to play.'
When it comes to young people, Hood says it's important to work with them for the good. However, for those who are doing bad by committing these crimes, he says it's time to use tough love!
'These are crimes of choices,' says Hood. 'I don't want to hear this thing about they don't have jobs and if they don't have jobs they're going to shoot and steal or whatever. The bottom line is that they make a choice to do that. We had someone steal a car from here at the Boys and Girls while the parent was still in the parking lot. Come on now, we need to deal with that kid, that young person or whoever it is at that level. We don't need to excuse that, and I think we're giving excuses for it.'
Hood says it's time to reclaim the community and make it safe for young and old alike.
'Nobody's going to pick on young people, but we need to make sure that our community's safe for the vast majority of our young people and right now they are safe up to a point, but they are scared just like the elderly. This is an opportunity to do something good by our churches, community groups and to work with the police department and work with the mayor to get it done.'