Australian former NFL star Jesse Williams has asked the community to consider the weight of their decisions at the launch of a Queensland police campaign to end knife crime in the state.
The Brisbane born and raised Williams is directing a documentary on Indigenous incarceration in Queensland, while also working with local police to influence the values of young people and empower them to make the right choices.
Williams, who is Indigenous, said education and understanding was the most important element to the campaign.
“I’m nothing but a compilation of the decision and choices I get to make. I get to choose what sort of person I get to be,” Williams said.
“I want people to understand the weight of what that is for me and what that is for them when it comes to their decision-making – with or without knives.
“I was a part of the whole creative process of the campaign, so it’s hopefully leaning more in the direction of culturally appropriate outward facing information by not just Queensland police but all these organisation that work in this space, because there is a … lack of understanding and misappropriated information.
“I hope the campaign not only helps with nullifying knife crime but the secondary important piece is getting the information about knives to the younger ones, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, because a lot of the information I didn’t even know until I did the campaign.
“It’s just about getting the information out there and not having anymore of the younger kids getting caught up in bad situations because they don’t know. The more they know the better they can do for themselves — hopefully this will help with that and future pieces as well.”
Williams’s documentary also acts as an educational tool.
“The documentary is essentially an aspirational and educational piece on Indigenous incarceration — from both sides of the fence,” Williams said.
“A bit of a solution piece to some of the animosity that is currently in the air — which is something that is quite visible in the media.
“We’re hoping to fill a bit of the void with further education and understanding.”
Williams, a member of the Seattle Seahawks’ 2013 Super Bowl winning team, said the campaign was an important step toward a stronger relationship between the community and the police.
“It shows a lot that Queensland police has been proactive in their appropriation techniques in regards to their campaigns,” Williams said.
“There’s obviously still a lot of work to do on both sides of that relationship, but I think the steps are being put in place a least to make some positive gains in those areas.
“The knife crime campaign is just the beginning of bigger things Queensland Police and myself have in store.”
Statistics show that knife-related offences in public have increased by 33 per cent since 2016.
Queensland Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said she hoped to see the same success officers saw when trialling the campaign in Logan in 2019, which saw a sustained 23 per cent drop in knife-related crime.
“As police, we see all too often the devastating consequences of knife carrying in our community — on victims and their families and friends,” she said.
“When we started to examine the statistics of our target cohort, we saw that over 60 per cent of knife crime in the state was related to young people carrying knives, most often to protect themselves.
“We know that unfortunately much of the time, it’s not the case. Most often these knives are used against the person or to commit other more serious crimes so we are looking to empower people to not make that choice — to not carry the knife.”