The city and grassroots community organizations have struggled to agree on how to solve the problem, but they now think they have a plan. Both sides agree that they need to find ways to reduce violence and help victims, but the way in which they do it has been a point of contention over the last month.
The focus of the initiative is to use community relationships and networks to help de-escalate violence in the city. The city along with community groups Nehemiah, Focused Interruption Coalition and the Boys and Girls Club of Dane County have been working to come to an agreement on how to support peer services in the city. Under the proposed resolution, $50,000 would be designated for peer support services around the city which will include: providing ways to de-escalate crisis, support families and utilize resources in neighborhoods to increase safety.
“I want to thank the City Council of Madison for voting unanimously to support the 15 Point Plan created by the Focused Interruption Coalition, Alders Maurice Cheeks and (Matt) Phair, the Mayor’s Office, Boys & Girls Clubs and Nehemiah,” said Boys and Girls Clubs CEO Michael Johnson. “This is a great first step to address peer support for families and a pathway to support children and families traumatized by crimes in our community.”
Disagreement over who should receive and be in charge of the money for the program created a divide last month, both sides agree that issue has been resolved. In the revised proposal the Boys and Girls Club will handle the funds of the initiative.
“We have certain procedures in the city in terms of how we do resolutions and how we do contracts. That wasn’t acceptable to some folks. We have worked that out and the more important thing is the content and dealing with violence, dealing with the use of firearms, and trying to one stop the retaliation and escalation and get those who’ve got the guns to get rid of them put them away and realize there is a better way for them to have a future in Madison, said Mayor Paul Soglin.
An additional $25,000 will go towards direct aid of individuals affected by violence to cover cost such as temporary housing, transportation and unforeseen expenses associated with a violent incident.
“I think a lot of the back and forth happened because this is something new. We obviously can’t do what we have been doing. You need a new approach to violence prevention and its necessary now,” explained the director of the Focused Interruption Coalition, Zandra Hagber. “It’s (the program) peer support. It’s something that hasn’t been done. Its building your community within the community, using the community to address these issues rather than institutions, she said.
The initiative is part of a larger $400,000 initiative budgeted for this year that includes a 15-point plan designed by the focused interruption coalition to address violence and racial disparities throughout the city.
Due to recent crime, the groups wanted the funding to be freed up this summer to be able to take action immediately.