Kennedy's message is similar to every city: Gun crimes should not be tolerated and can be decreased, but law enforcement, social service and community groups have to work collectively to convince those committing the crimes that they don't have to follow the rules of the street.
"The offenders think that it's always been like this and it's never going to change," Kennedy said after speaking to as many as 50 community members and law enforcement officials at St. Paul Global Outreach Ministries, 1250 Germantown Pike.
"This has been one of the really tragic realizations I've had doing this," he said.
People are people. If they act in ways that don't make sense to you, that's because something's different. You might think it's going to change, maybe you can see a way out of your current situation. I remember being poor, degreeless, certificateless, and with a new child. I remember my hours at Taco Bell being cut back at the beginning of a recession, and knowing I wouldn't be able to make the rent.
I turned to the military - and was lucky to come out the other side. I had exceptional - in the literal sense of the word - drill instructors, platoon leaders, and instructors. Had I not made it in the military - as I got to see happen to so many recruits - I have no idea what I could have done. The military was my last chance - and for most people, it's a bad one.
If it was so hard for me to see options - as a reasonably intelligent, well-educated, white person with parental support - how much harder must it be for those without those advantages? What's obvious to you and I - face it, we're doing better than most to have time to read blogs, right? - may never occur to anyone else.
The Miami Valley is still in a crisis, and we all need to help each other see every way out of it that we can.