Phelps is spearheading a campaign to recruit mentors and neighborhood watch groups, and coordinate efforts among community organizations, to take on the problem.
"You knocked on houses for votes," he said. "I'm asking you to knock on houses for support of neighborhood watch."
Hundreds of people showed up last week for a town-hall meeting at the Kroc Center to talk about the campaign to end violence. Phelps scheduled another meeting for 6:30 p.m. June 6 at the Kroc Center to talk about community policing, which he called the toughest aspect of the project.
Phelps talked about how football great Jim Brown negotiated a truce between rival gangs 20 years ago in Los Angeles. He said more leaders need to reach out and be positive role models to youths at risk here.
Council member Henry Davis Jr., D-2nd, objected to the process by which Phelps was asking for the council's assistance. He said the request should have come from the mayor's office or through a measure sponsored by a council member.
"This is not political," Phelps said.
"Then why are you here?" Davis asked.
"Because you were voted as the Common Council, the mayor was voted by the people, and this is democracy at its best," Phelps responded. "We the people want to make a move. If you want to object to what I'm doing, that's your right."
Davis said there might be existing programs that can be improved, and he doesn't know how Phelps' program will measure outcomes.
Police Chief Chuck Hurley spoke next. Davis walked out of the committee meeting a few minutes later, saying Hurley was being disrespectful.
Council member Oliver Davis, D-6th, also complained about "everybody blasting South Bend schools and saying how bad South Bend schools are." Phelps interrupted, saying he wasn't criticizing the schools.
"You're out of order, sir," Davis told Phelps. "Please have a seat."
The councilman added, "People can scream on a basketball court, but as a professional and elected official ... that is untolerable."
Council President Derek Dieter, D-at large, added, "So is walking out of a meeting."