In the wake of three shootings over the course of a few weeks, two of them fatal, Boys and Girls Club of Dane County CEO Michael Johnson published the following list of recommendations to curb the violence.
The recommendations will be presented at a press conference and community event at the Allied Drive Boys and Girls Club at 3:45 pm on Monday, May 16. Johnson will be joined by Oscar Mireles, Steve Arnold, Colier McNair, Anthony B Cooper Sr., Caliph Muab-El, Timothy Maymon, Jackie Morris, Zandra Lee, Rafael Charles Ragland, Kesha Hatch Bozeman, Dennis McClain, Melissa Sargent, Bryan Foster and with more than 100 young people. Local youth working with 608 TV with Foster Funeral Home will simulate an actual scene in the parking lot of the Boys & Girls Club and demonstrate the impact of how these issues impact children and families in our community at the beginning of the press conference.
Johnson will also discuss these recommendations on Madison365 Radio Monday night between 6 and 8 pm on 1310 AM WIBA.
Here are some recommendations our community should consider:
1. Meet with the leaders associated with these incidents and offer them gainful employment and training opportunities to help them become productive adults in return for cease fire. If they don’t comply offer them a ticket out of town or place additional scrutiny on them and their comrades from all levels of government and law enforcement.
2. Implement a city-wide Madison Alternative Policing Strategy (MAPS). A program that’s led by community leaders working with the police department with a full-time executive director, support staff with an independent board that works with police officers, civic leaders and community organizers in each district to address violence prevention strategies. This should be a non government function led and governed by representatives from the community.
3. Offer a $10k reward for any homicide that is reported and leads to the arrest and conviction of any offender(s).
4. Twice a year organize a citywide gun back program in partnership with communities of faith and offer $250 for any working handgun and $500 for any working semi automatic weapon(s) turned into authorities. In addition, offer free gun locks at every public library and community center. This strategy could prevent children and stolen guns from being used inappropriately. State Representative Melissa Sargent have offered a resolution to address this statewide.
5. Create a targeted intervention program for young men 18-40 who are former gang members or non-violent offenders and help them find life and career coaches to minimize them from committing another crime in our community.
6. Hire former gang members as outreach workers who have street credibility but also have demonstrated that they have become productive adults. These folks could become a bridge between law enforcement officials and emerging individuals who are considering a life of criminal activity.
7. Offer immediate assistance, protection and support to any person and their family who is willing to cooperate with police to help bring intelligence that can solve crime(s) in our community. A fund could be created to help cover this cost to assist law enforcement officials.
8. Ensure high quality, culturally competent mental health services that are widely accessible. While gun ownership has been rising, mental health services across our region have been woefully underfunded.
9. Support a comprehensive violence prevention plan that include prevention, intervention, enforcement, rehabilitation and reentry programs. A growing research base demonstrates that it’s possible to prevent shootings, killings and violence in the long term. Yet our communities lack the resources and a coordinated effort to do what is needed.
10. Fund grassroot, community outreach workers to work with neighborhood associations and community centers in targeted communities. The plan should also call for all community centers to stay open until 10pm during the week, midnight on Saturdays with some programming on Sunday for at risk teens and young adults.
11. Offer universal school-based programs to reduce or prevent violent behavior in a given school and develop supportive strategies to reduce school suspensions across the board.
12. Lobby for policies that address social determinants of violence. Interpersonal violence is strongly associated with macro-level social factors as unemployment, income inequality, rapid social change and access to education. A comprehensive violence prevention strategy must be directed at the aforementioned factors to reduce the inequities which fuel interpersonal violence.
13. Implement a county wide reentry court program that allows young non violent offenders who qualify to learn a trade — from plumbing to welding to culinary arts. It also provides them with hours of classes on anger management and communication.
14. Treatment for substance. About 75% of inmates need substance abuse treatment, but only about 17% are receiving it. Research shows that correctional substance abuse treatment reduces recidivism.
15. Teach young children (and their parents) EFFECTIVE CONFLICT RESOLUTION SKILLS EARLY. If children only see unhealthy conflict resolution in the home, at school, on social media, on the streets, and in the community…they will be more inclined to use violence to solve issues in their young lives.
Madison actually has a concrete chance of turning these issues around if we make it a priority and stop announcing isolated initiatives that give false hope with limited to no resources aligned to these announcements. We are better than this and I hope our city does not become numb to these kinds of incidents. These strategies might save someone’s life, including yours.