EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) – This was the second roundtable public meeting hosted by City Representative Isabel Salcido and County Commissioner Carlos Leon after a series of crimes in El Paso, most of them involving juveniles.

District 5 Rep. Salcido explained what struck a chord with her the most was the Cielo Vista Mall deadly shooting on Feb. 15 involving teenagers.

“It really opened a wound for me I didn’t really know or understand what I was feeling, but it was just trauma. We have not healed. Our community is still mourning from that time, and I think we continue to mourn and the more we hear those crimes it really just reopens the wound. We just need to find a solution,” said Salcido.

This prompted her and County Commissioner Leon to hold the first meeting on Feb. 25 to discuss with city leaders, law enforcement and the community about their concerns of public safety.

Salcido explained that the goal of these meetings is to get input from officials and the public to help create a policy, or several policies that will help mitigate crime, especially juvenile crime and keep the community safe.

The immense feedback from the first meeting created the need for the one on Wednesday, that once again gathered local leaders such as Mayor Oscar Leeser, County Judge Ricardo Samaniego, District Attorney Bill Hicks, school district superintendents and law enforcement officials.

“When you’re working with juveniles the earlier you are able to participate and figure out what’s going on the better it’s going to be. Once it gets to a point that it becomes a situation and it becomes repeated it’s really difficult,” said Samaniego.

El Paso County Constable Oscar Ugarte explained that once law enforcement gets in contact with juveniles usually it’s when they’re already in trouble. Several other law enforcement officials agreed that youth should have a developed relationship with officers early on to learn about what they do and that there are consequences to their actions.

“All these juveniles have access to guns. Where are these guns coming? They’re coming from houses, parents. One thing that we’d like to focus is educating the parents on responsible gun ownership,” said Ugarte.

“We’re going to be prosecuting 17 years and older, and we’re going to be prosecuting people who are making guns available for kids,” said D.A. Hicks.

Amid the long list of, what seem to be, correlated issues one of the most talked about were social media and mental health.

Clinical associate professor at UTEP, Dr. Hector Morales said that the family unit in El Paso is suffering, all on the back of Covid-19 and hardships that parents are going through, which are also affecting the children.

“Children are also aware of the problems their parents are having and kids are never to take care of adults,” he said.

Salcido announced she will be holding another meeting specifically to ask students on how they feel and what their needs are. Date and time have not been set yet.

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