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Wilmington officials scrutinize report with recommendations to reduce gun violence

Mark Fowser - WDEL

Reducing and preventing gun-related violence in Wilmington will take money, people and constant communication, according to a report requested by the city earlier this year.

Late last year, several members of City Council, Mayor Mike Purzycki and Chief of Staff Tanya Washington visited Newark, New Jersey to learn about the work of the Community Based Public Safety Collective, which works in various community-focused ways to prevent lives from being lost due to violence. After contracting with the CBPSC earlier in 2022 to conduct a "landscape analysis" of the city's challenges, elected officials recently received the report, which was discussed at a meeting of City Council's Public Safety Committee.

According to Elizabeth Ruebman with the Collective, the review examined crime and hospital data and involved interviews with about five dozen city leaders, community members, interventionists and other stakeholders. She stressed the need for open dialogue "so that the intervention organizations are in constant communication and are strategizing, working with other stakeholders and coming together on a regular and thoughtful basis to address the violence."

The Collective recommends grant support for several existing intervention organizations, funding an external coordinator for intervention organizations and services, and training and deploying 20 community ambassador-interventionists. Also, the report calls for zeroing in on the data-identified likely victims and perpetrators of gun violence as well as hot spots.

“The Landscape document is not just a report, but it’s a blueprint for reimagining public safety in our City,” 7th District Councilman Chris Johnson said in a statement. “We must finally learn from our mistakes from the past, and forge a new, well-invested, community-led approach for healing our City.”

“Eight million dollars in ARPA set aside for Building Safer Communities is not nearly enough to address all the issues the City is facing,” Wilmington City Council President Trippi Congo said in a statement. “We need to focus on prevention at both the school and household level. In addition, funding is needed from the State, County, and Federal governments. We need to continue to engage the entire community for suggestions, and we have to help shape the minds and mentality of our children so that violence isn’t an immediate response.”

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