CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – The City of Charleston is planning a new victim assistance program to help victims and prevent future violence – something that residents said they’re seeing all too often nowadays.

“I live here on the West Side, but I tell people, ‘You need to have eyes in the back of your head down here. You got to watch out,’” said John Wheeler, Charleston resident. 

Other Charleston residents like Don Davis said it’s something he doesn’t want to see anymore.

“I just hope things get better and they do something to clean it up,” Davis said. “It’s bad for the kids and everybody in the community. It’s just bad.”

City leaders are hoping that will all change with the new “Victim Assistance Program Commission” that was approved by City Council in mid-September.

It’s a program that hits home for City Council member Deanna McKinney, who lost her son to gun violence eight years ago.

“A lot of times we don’t want to confront these things because we don’t want to acknowledge that their happening, she said. “But guess what, if it happened to you, you would want someone to do the same thing that I’m doing. So, let’s prevent that. Let’s make sure that it doesn’t happen to someone like you.”

McKinney said she’s hoping this new program will provide others the support she needed while grieving the loss of her own son. She also hopes it can prevent future heartache for other families.

“I’m hoping this bill will be something that the people in Charleston can look forward to to help them get through the horrific ordeals that they may go through living here, dealing with crime and drugs and gun violence,” she said. “It’s just heartbreaking to not have a place of support or anything like that.”

The program’s commission will be comprised of seven members including the Chief of Police, two City Council members and four Charleston residents. All of which will be appointed by the Mayor.

Once the commission is formed, McKinney said they can begin making a difference.

“Instead of just turning our heads, we have to start these conversations in order to heal.”

McKinney wants the program to start as soon as possible, but she said there are multiple steps that need to be taken before it can begin.