Groups in Cedar Rapids work to decrease youth violence

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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Several students face criminal charges after two separate incidents at Washington High School in Cedar Rapids.

Police rarely need to respond to two separate situations at the high school at the same time. But officers are familiar with Washington High School. And some community members are working on ways to decrease violence with area students. The good news is the numbers are already improving.

Police responded to more than 110 calls during the 2016 to 2017 year. About 90 calls in 2017 to 2018. So far this school year, which is about half over, police responded to about 30 calls. These service calls range from a report of weapon, assault or any other sort of disturbance.

Wednesday's incidents started with a report of a student with a weapon. Officers found a pellet gun in the student's backpack. That 16 year-old is now charged with carrying weapons.

While officers were still there, a fight started in the school's foyer. Police arrested three teenage girls for disorderly conduct.

One community group in Cedar Rapids wants to prevent violence like this happening as often.

Recently, the Safe Equitable and Thriving Community Task Force got the green light to hire someone to implement ways to make the community safer. The new part-time position will be housed at the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation. The person will look to connect families in need with area nonprofits.

"Those are things like economic opportunities, education, community programming and community engagement. So when you look at our landscapes of nonprofits there are lots and lots of organizations that are doing components of this so part of this is to elevate that work which will address issues of youth violence,” Karla Twedt-Ball said.

The foundation is in the midst of the hiring process now. They hope to have someone hired in the next couple months. It'll be at least a three-year position.

Funding for that position comes from the City of Cedar Rapids, Linn County and the Cedar Rapids School District. The SET Task Force initially started about four years ago, after a 14-year-old shot and killed another teenager at a Cedar Rapids park.