Phoenix is great because of our strong communities where neighbors work together and take pride in the place they call home.

I am thankful for my Neighborhood Advisory Committee made up of 33 community leaders, each who gives input about the issues that are important to their neighborhood. Block watches are another valuable way you can look out for each other and work with Phoenix police to stamp out crime.

As I said in my state of the city address, I wanted to immediately implement two public-safety initiatives this year to increase our efforts on fighting crime and increasing our security.

The Phoenix School Safety program is doubling the number of school safety officers in schools city-wide. We are working with every public, private and charter school in Phoenix to develop a clear and effective emergency response plan. Our kids deserve safe schools to learn and grow, and our neighborhoods are better because of it.

In May, we also implemented another tool to aid in the safety of our communities. Thanks to two separate anonymous donors’ gifts of $100,000 each, we were able to hold the largest gun buyback event in the state. Residents turned in nearly 1,000 unwanted weapons in the first two weekends alone. The gun buyback was completely voluntary; it was up to gun owners to choose to turn over a weapon they may have at home. Phoenix police and Arizonans for Gun Safety also educated the public on gun safety to reduce gun accidents, thefts and suicides. Our event was so successful that the initial $100,000 anonymous donation to provide gift cards for those who turned in a weapon was nearly depleted in the first weekend, prompting another donor to boost the program with another $100,000 donation for the final weekend. Let me be clear: I will always be a strong supporter of our Second Amendment rights. I am also a strong supporter of common-sense ways we can stop criminals from getting their hands on our guns. If we can limit the potential for one criminal to get their hands on an unwanted weapon in your neighborhood, collect a weapon that can solve a crime or return a gun back to its rightful owner, we know these efforts are well worth it.

We must work together for stronger neighborhoods and safer schools. It all starts with neighbors like you working with community leaders and police to improve the neighborhoods and city we all love to call home.

• Greg Stanton was elected mayor of Phoenix in 2011.

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