Gov. Evers announces $45 million investment in violence prevention efforts

NOW: Gov. Evers announces $45 million investment in violence prevention efforts

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers and Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, as well as violence prevention advocates and community leaders, announced a $45 million investment for safer communities through violence prevention and support for crime victims on Wednesday, Oct. 13. 

Under the plan that was announced during a press conference at Milwaukee's COA Goldin Center, Gov. Evers is investing $25 million into violence prevention efforts and $20 million to support victim services in Wisconsin.

The funds will help bolster both statewide research initiatives and community-based solutions, and the funding for victim services will support providers in meeting the recent increase in demand for these services.

This comes as Milwaukee experiences a historic increase in crime. The city set a record for homicides in 2020, and is on a similar pace this year.

"We have seen unacceptable levels of violence and shooting here in Milwaukee and in other communities," Attorney General Josh Kaul said.

“We’re working to build the future we want for our kids and our state, and that means working to address the cycle of violence and crime to ensure safe schools, safe streets, and safe communities,” said Gov. Evers. “This is another public health crisis that needs our attention and action, and like any public health issue, it starts with prevention. Violence and its effects on kids, families, and communities are not inevitable. We have to focus on the root causes and invest in interventions and community-based solutions, and we have to make sure the trusted folks and organizations who are already doing this work are at the center of this process.”

The Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) Violence Prevention Project will also receive $10.4 million of these funds to administer a competitive grant process to support violence project efforts statewide, officials said.

“The American Rescue Plan has provided an unprecedented opportunity for local and state leaders to invest in comprehensive approaches to violence prevention that are rooted in public health and smart on public safety,” said Reggie Moore, director of violence prevention policy and engagement for the Comprehensive Injury Center. “I am pleased to see state and city leaders prioritizing investment in addressing this very serious public health crisis.”

According to a news release, the $25 million investment in violence prevention also includes $8 million that will go directly to the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention to respond to the pandemic-related uptick in violence and trauma with projects that take a public health approach to violence prevention.

"We've funded over 30 programs over the last few years, and so we will issue RFPs to fund more programs," Milwaukee OVP Director Arnitta Holliman said. "Maybe some of the same, but also additional programs that are doing youth development, and mental health and healing type services."

“I am grateful for this timely and necessary investment by Governor Evers in violence prevention in Milwaukee,” Holliman said. “We have clearly seen the impact that the pandemic has had on gun violence in Milwaukee and throughout the country. These resources will be critical for increasing our capacity to prevent, intervene, and respond to the historic levels of violence we are seeing in our city.”

Officials said $20 million will help support victim services in Wisconsin through a grant administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). Of the $20 million, $100,000 will go toward the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), which is the only statewide membership, training, and technical assistance agency for sexual assault service providers in Wisconsin, according to a news release.

“The investments that Governor Evers is announcing today will provide major support to efforts to stop crime before it happens and to ensure that services are available to crime victims despite the multimillion-dollar shortfall in federal funding under the Victims of Crime Act,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you, Governor Evers, for this substantial investment in public safety.”

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