CLEVELAND, Ohio -- Local organizations, law enforcement and the community came together during a community resource event Saturday.
The event, Creating Deeper Connections -- Community Solutions, comes after the tragic death of Alianna DeFreeze. The event, attended by about 50 people, focused on the impact of the loss, the importance of looking after children in the community, and knowing the resources available to make the community stronger.
The gathering was held at E-Prep Woodland Hills Campus in Cleveland.
Representatives from different entities spoke such as Cleveland Police Fourth District, FBI, Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, Cleveland Metropolitan Schools Safety & Security, Cleveland Clergy Coalition Safe Schools/Safe Streets Initiative and many more.
The killing of Alianna brings the continuation of showing the community the resources that are available, said Roshawn Sample, executive director of Union Miles Development Corporation.
Residents need to continue to be involved in the community and make changes, Sample said. When tragedy happens, people tend to react, she added.
"It's time for residents to take back the community," she said. "We have a variety of resources for residents. We need to be more proactive than reactive."
Aside from making changes, it's also important to continue to look out for the children in the community, GCRTA Transit Police Commander Michael Gettings said.
Gettings, along with other transit police officers, conducted Operation Kidwatch during the event. Police photographed children, took their fingerprints and issued identification cards.
"I think what's important is to protect our most vulnerable citizens, which are our children," he said.
Gettings, who said they conduct Operation Kidwatch at schools, tells parents unexpected things can happen when it comes to their children.
"You can't be with your child 24/7, you send your child to school and you hope everything works out," he said.
If something were to happen to the child, that's where Operation Kidwatch comes into play.
Shevette Wilkes' 10-year-old daughter Desiree got her photo taken, her fingerprint taken and got an identification card for her mother during the event.
"It's very important for our kids and for the community to document our children because there is so much going on in the world," she said. "Back in the day we didn't have to worry about our kids and having our doors locked during the night."
Everyone needs to pay attention to what's going on in the community, Wilkes said.
A lot more parents need to get an identification card for themselves and get their children into the system so police have their information ready to go if they go missing, she said.
Alianna was the first student John McBride lost.
"This was a tragedy," said McBride, a model education leader for The Prep Schools. "To have this as one of the first major events in terms of losing a scholar, I know it hurt us, it scarred us, it caused tragedy for our school for our scholars for our families."
Alianna is now part of the school's journey and story, McBride said, and they have to embrace that because that is part of the school's identity now.
"So that's for our scholars and our community, that's for our school, that's for us as educators and that's for our greater community," he said.
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