Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention staff to remain focused, 'strong-knit' after director departure

NOW: Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention staff to remain focused, ’strong-knit’ after director departure

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- The search is on for a new leader of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention.

As its director departs this month, OVP’s staff remains focused on their work.

Their plan is to keep forward with their mission to gain peace in the city, and they are still committed to the community partners and residents they serve.

“There’s a strong-knit team here," said Violence Prevention Manager Jamaal Smith.

Many know OVP's work to end shootings, domestic and other physical violence.

"Usually, when most people think of violence it always comes under the mindset of homicides, non-fatal shootings, simple assaults, aggravated assaults, domestic violence, gender-based violence, you know, all those forms of physical violence," said Smith. "And rightfully so, those are all areas that we need to continue to focus on. 

But Smith, who handles public policy, advocacy and OVP's Blueprint for Peace, said their efforts are wide-ranging.

"But many things that we also track within the Office of Violence Prevention is, what does investment look like within our communities? What does investment look like in terms of affordable housing or home ownership? What does investment look like in terms of ensuring people have access to quality health care, youth development, afterschool programming?”

The office also supports programs and partnership for youth and families.

Looking ahead, grant manager Arnitta Holliman envisions an OVP expansion in both size and in scope.

“In terms of how we’re advocating for policy change, systemic changes. We really need are walking out and living out the idea that violence is a public health issue, that racism is a public health issue," said Holliman, who manages OVP's Recast grant from the federal government. 

Current OVP director Reggie Moore exits this month after five years.

He will join the Medical College of Wisconsin as its director of violence prevention, policy and engagement.

“We absolutely need someone who understand violence and how it happens," Holliman said. "Understands the risk factors, but also the protective factors.”

Staff also say their new director must be deeply connected to working with, and in, the community.

“This is not an initiative that we’re focusing on maintaining governmental control or bureaucratic control," said Smith.

Moore begins his new role in May.

Mayor Barrett and leaders at the Milwaukee Health Department are working to find his replacement.

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