Efforts to reduce gun violence in the City of Jackson are getting a big boost after the Jackson City Council unanimously voted to allocate $1.5 million to a Group Violence Intervention (GVI) program. The allocation of federal funds available to the City from the American Rescue Plan (ARP) came at the Tuesday, Aug. 17 City Council meeting. GVI battles gun violence by direct community involvement and intervention for those committing shootings.
The $1.5 million allocation funds Jackson’s GVI program through the next five years. The funding will first contract the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College to design and implement a GVI solution specific to Jackson. In 2019, the Jackson Police Department worked with NNSC to review shootings in Jackson. It was determined small groups of people in the area were committing the majority of gun crimes, leading to consistent shootings and retaliation.
Jackson’s initial plan calls for a social worker and program coordinator working in the police department on GVI solutions. Once the program is started, law enforcement, neighbors and community organizations will work together to directly approach the groups committing gun violence and look for direct solutions to stopping them from participating in this destructive behavior.
Elmer Hitt, the Director of Jackson Police and Fire Services, says GVI is something that his department has been reviewing for the past three years, but budgetary concerns brought on by COVID-19 pandemic halted consideration. “It’s no secret we have a gun violence problem here in Jackson. Law enforcement alone cannot solve this problem, and this new approach will bring in many other entities to address gun violence in a way we have never seen before. I firmly believe this is a strategy that will show some results,” Director Hitt said.
Mayor Derek Dobies proposed the $1.5 million to ramp up Jackson’s GVI efforts. “Communities across the country and right here in Michigan have seen reductions in shootings thanks to GVI programs,” Mayor Dobies said. “It’s time for a different response to shootings that involves the entire community, and makes sure none of our residents continue to choose a life of violence.”
Now that the allocation is made, officials say it will take several months to get the program started.