NASHVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — Earlier this year, Mayor John Cooper announced a community safety expert to help organizations to put an end to violence.
"I was able to get out in the streets and see exactly what was happening, but I came from that living and growing up in Memphis," said Ron Johnson.
Johnson knows the pain personally when it comes to gun violence.
"Unfortunately, I had a real rough experience in my life where my mom was murdered my junior year in college."
Johnson says he turned that pain into passion. He poured his life into finding ways to end violence. He was one of the founders of the REAL Program at the Oasis Center where he was a mentor.
He is now Metro Nashville’s Community Safety coordinator.
"A lot of the groups have been working and doing amazing work, but they've worked in the silo, and not that they didn't want to come together, but I don't feel that they have had anyone in the space."
Johnson hasn’t been in this role for long, but he’s been out in the streets listening to nonprofits, churches and grassroots organizations working to end violence.
He will coordinate a community safety pilot initiative that will span the city and bring experts from neighborhoods, local business, philanthropy and government together.
"We're going to do all we can to come together, even friend and foe are going to come together and do the best that we can because our common enemy is violence."
Johnson will work with an 11-member board consisting of law enforcement, church leaders and non-profits.
Together they will provide funding recommendations for the nearly $1.5 million in grants Mayor John Cooper allocated in March to support neighborhood groups working to prevent and reduce violence.
"One of the most important things is having the resources, and someone support you with those resources, and that is what we’re going to try to do with the best of our abilities.
The grant applications for community groups will be opening soon. Johnson is asking all of them to apply.