WACO, Texas — Waco PD reported as of May 2022 that 13 murders and 40 deadly incidents have occurred in Waco since the start of 2022.
Kim Tatum, executive director for Epiphany Soul and a community member hoping for change, says it's important to hold events like the Community Opportunity Event because it shows kids and young adults there are other ways to make a path for yourself.
"I think it's very important and one of the reasons why I think it's important is because it gives kids an opportunity to see what else is going on in your neighborhood," Tatum said. "Who else can you partner with to, you know, find a different path forward."
Tatum is the executive director of Epiphany Soul, a STEM focused group whose mission is to strengthen community engagement for black and brown young people and provide them with a myriad of resources to explore different aspects of life.
Tatum says the police putting together events like this is crucial to bridging the divide between law enforcement and its citizens.
Waco PD Police chief Sheryl Victorian addressed the crowd today to reassure them that there is a plan and a better way forward.
"As we said before violent crime is is flat in the city. However, we've seen some increases in murders," Victorian said. "But we're trying to come up with solutions to make sure we're addressing these issues at the root causes."
Hundreds of people came out, and some big names joined in the fun as well. Baylor men's basketball head coach Scott Drew and the men's basketball team were at the Multi-Purpose Center signing autographs and hanging out with kids. Baylor women's basketball head coach Nicki Collen and the women's basketball team were also there, interacting with community members and kids.
Collen said events like this are important because the best thing we can o for our kids is provide them ways to stay off the streets and get involved in different activities, athletic or not.
"You know, not everyone likes athletics, but there's so many resources for kids, so many fields for them to get into," Collen said. "Engineering, gaming, we need kids to be involved in these things so we can help slow down this crime. Our program is committed to doing our part as well to help the community any way we can."
Some naysayers believe the cycle of crime and community events may never end. Victorian says Waco must be all in as one city, working to slow down crime and keep Waco safe.
"Get off the sideline and get into the game. Don't be a spectator and making negative comments about what can't be done. Let's get in and figure out what you can do. If each one of us do a little bit. We can we can make Waco an even better city."