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Guest column: Action needed to address Jackson gun violence
Posted May 26, 2019
By Derek Dobies & Kelsey Heck
JACKSON, MI – As city leaders, we’re among the first to get reports of a shooting. We hear the stories of the victims, see the fear from those affected and understand the damage such violence causes to our neighborhoods and the families they support.
In a time when state and federal policy has failed to address gun violence that now even permeates into our schools, it is incumbent on local leaders to work to understand the problem and present solutions.
For us in Jackson, much of the violent crime we experience is the result of the behavior of about 150 people.
Proactively addressing the cause of the risky criminal behavior of those folks and working to change that behavior will lower crime, reduce violence, minimize arrest and incarceration and help improve trust and transparency between our community and our law enforcement officers.
Far too many of our young people end up dead or in prison – we need to fundamentally shift the way we think about violence, offenders, and policing.
Group Violence Intervention programming is a strategy of crime reduction based on years of research in communities across the country.
The National Network for Safe Communities, a project of John Jay College, works with local law enforcement, social service providers and community activists to reduce violence and improve public safety. The first program of this kind was implemented as “Operation Ceasefire” in Boston in 1996 and the principles have continued to work in cities large and small -- including our neighbors in Kalamazoo and Detroit.
The National Network for Safe Communities is already working with the Jackson Police Department to conduct an initial problem analysis to identify the resources, stakeholders and active groups and suggest steps to address the violent crime problem in Jackson.
It is critical that we support this work, which is why together we have proposed a funding increase to the JPD for the 2019-20 budget, specifically to implement Group Violence Intervention strategic programming.
Additionally, the Gun Violence Task Force commissioned during our State Of The City address is investigating the success of Detroit’s Project Greenlight and the possibility of introducing a similar program in Jackson.
Project Greenlight is a public-private partnership that began with nine gas stations in troubled Detroit neighborhoods. The businesses owners partnered with Detroit Police Department to share security camera feeds – allowing the police to tap into those feeds in real-time during emergency situations. This video feed helps give the police the tools and surveillance they need to proactively fight crime.
In addition to these two initiatives, the task force is organizing a five point plan that includes creating early intervention programming, directing private investment, empowering neighborhoods, prioritizing city investment and strengthening city policies.
Gun violence has been called a “public health crisis” by the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association. It’s time we work to implement real, proven solutions to address our local crisis.
The memory of those lost to gun violence reminds us that the stakes are too high not to act.
– Derek Dobies is Jackson’s mayor. Kelsey Heck is the city’s Ward 5 Councilwoman.
LIBERTY HAS NO EXPIRATION DATEDemocrats wouldn't buy a clue if it was government subsidized.
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