Growing up in Saginaw, Mich., Steelers linebacker LaMarr Woodley saw first-hand how crime and violence can devastate a community and the families within it.
That is why Woodley is proud to collaborate with Pittsburgh-based Prevent Another Crime Today Initiative in an effort to help reduce crime and violence in Pittsburgh.
Created by CEO Valerie Dixon, the P.A.C.T. Initiative provides information and resources in order to reduce crime in Pittsburgh; helps solve unsolved murders and violent crimes; and provides direct support to victims’ families and provide anti-violence and crime prevention educational programs for youth and support of the Victims Bill of Rights throughout Pennsylvania by addressing victims issues, legislation and concerns with state government.
Since its inception, the initiative has assisted in the arrest of 16 homicide suspects, contributed to nine convictions and several tips on gun confiscation and gang activity.
“My involvement with P.A.C.T. is natural for me. I highly respect the work that P.A.C.T. does and it’s a privilege to be able to help them accomplish their goals,” Woodley said.
Woodley’s partnership with the P.A.C.T. Initiative is an expansion of his previous involvement with the organization. For three years he has been the spokesperson of the group’s billboard campaign, which features the faces of victims of unsolved homicides and encourages tipsters to come forward to solve those crimes. The campaign has facilitated numerous tips on unsolved murders and and other violent crimes in the Pittsburgh area. The billboards are funded entirely through donations.
“I started the billboard campaign in 2001 to reach out to communities to get tips on my son’s homicide,” Dixon said. “While I was doing that, LaMarr Woodley contacted Lamar Advertising and they put LaMarr in touch with me. He was passionate about what I was doing.”
Dixon said over a 10 year period, the billboards have contributed to 33 arrests, 27 trials, 22 convictions, three acquittals and two mistrials. P.A.C.T. has awarded approximately $43,000 in cash awards, which started at zero in 2001, went to $1,000 in 2003 then to $5,000 since 2005. The billboards have also helped shed light on some murders that were not featured on the billboards.
“The true killer in our community is violence. We become so fearful and we become hushed. When we realize that there is strength in numbers and we can stand up, we can go into the community and have conversations. The power is to have conversations,” Dixon said.
The LaMarr Woodley Foundation is a non-profit organization that is designed to help underprivileged and underserved youth and adults in Pittsburgh and Saginaw to overcome their adverse environments by providing opportunities and experiences that will help them unlock their full potential.
Three years ago, Dixon put Woodley’s face on one of her billboards with a positive theme throughout Allegheny County and Woodley has been involved ever since.
“My organization is about helping the community and helping the kids and trying to educate them and P.A.C.T. tries to educate about the violence in Pittsburgh and across the world,” Woodley said. “People sometimes have information but don’t want to share it. People are afraid for their life in the neighborhood they live in. I think people who lose their lives—whether they are innocent or gang members—the families should have closure.”