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Neighborhood planning meetings and walk to stop violence

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LAWTON, Okla_Some Lawton pastors are joining forces with Lawton police to come up with a plan to curb the violence in The View, a neighborhood in southwest Lawton plagued by violence. The panel held a press conference Wednesday afternoon outlining their ideas. They say it's going to take the community, the clergy and Lawton police working more pro-actively to stop this deadly trend.

There are several ways: they say they want to strengthen the neighborhood watch in The View by getting more of the community and its leaders involved. They plan on strengthening security at the Sanders Heights Apartment Complex where 27 year old Tanya Zachary was murdered a few weeks ago. They also plan on holding a prayer walk next Monday, to raise awareness about their cause.

Pastor Sam Moyd said that in order to curb violence in The View, they must move forward with a three-pronged attack that includes the clergy, the community and the police

"What needs to happen in order for change to take place is the spiritual leaders, those who have spiritual authority, come and say we are tired of the crime that's in the community and say let's see what can do. The other part of that attack is that people that are afraid may not talk to police but they will talk to the clergy."

He said after that, residents will feel more empowered and may then turn the police, something Sergeant Tonya Criger said is vital in fighting crime.

"We have to have support, we have to have communication, in order to do that we need to have involvement from the community, be willing to come and talk to us."

The panel also agreed that more needs to be done to keep residents of Sanders Heights safe.

"We're working on the security, looking into trying to get gates for the breezeways. I'm glad the community is helping me, the whole community needs it especially at Sanders Heights," Brenda Waters, manager of Sanders Heights Apartments, said

There are 37 churches in a two-mile stretch in The View and pastors say they want to increase that presence to try and dampen the violence. They say one way to do it is by asking church leaders to designate what they're calling "block captains."

"So that all the blocks will be covered in this community, we're watching for crime and we want the neighborhood policing and the community policing to take place. The neighborhoods and police policing themselves, it's a spiritual stronghold that will not be broken," Moyd said.

A few Sanders Heights residents were at Wednesday's meeting to vent their frustrations to the panel. They say they just want to be able to live in peace and not fear.

The prayer walk is Monday at 11 a.m. and it starts at Harkey Park across from the Dunbar school.

Pastor Moyd said everyone needs to start working together now before this deadly trend gets worse

"If we don't do anything now, 14 or 15 murders will be something that will be a thing of the past. We'll be at 100, 200, maybe 300 crimes in a month. We have to stop it and nip it in the bud at the beginning."

The panel is also holding a town hall meeting at City Hall with the police chief on the 15th at 6 p.m. There will also be a town hall meeting about gang violence December 7th, also at City Hall at 6:30.

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