Some Milwaukee leaders question success of Office of Violence Prevention; OVP responds with future evaluation plans

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Some of Milwaukee's elected leaders are questioning the success of the city's Office of Violence Prevention (OVP).

OVP Director Arnitta Holliman and data specialists with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) presented evaluation plans to the Public Safety and Health Committee at the request of Ald. Michael Murphy on Thursday, June 30. 

"If they're not successful, then you discontinue them. If they are successful, then you really support them," Murphy said.

Murphy said he finds the evaluation of 414 Life, an OVP program housed under MCW, to be worthwhile and helpful, but he isn't completely satisfied with the data he's seen on other programs funded by OVP.

The alderman is looking for more hard evidence-based outcomes, like prevention numbers of non-fatal shootings, homicides, etc. by the end of the year.

"You see the money going into the program and we still see the rampant violence going through our streets," Murphy said.

Holliman said her office is consistently questioned about the importance and worthiness of their work.

"We are also bearing a large part of the responsibility and accountability for a very small office that has very small or limited resources in comparison to the size of the problem," Holliman said. 

Milwaukee leaders committed $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to OVP. Those dollars are to be spent over the next five years. 

Some committee members implied funding will be reconsidered in the future and dependent on the evaluations expected in November and December.

"It looks like the dog days are ahead financially," Ald. Scott Spiker said. "Decisions are going to have to be made, and there's not going to be enough to go around."

If the Office of Violence Prevention were to be defunded, Holliman said the city would be left without a violence prevention plan.

"That means there are thousands of youth and families that will not get services as a result of that, and if that's okay, then people have to be okay with that. I'm not okay with that," Holliman said.

Holliman said they will have new evaluation reports in November and December.

"We have consistently provided data. We will continue to do that, but we also need the support," Holliman said. "I'm not scared about a meeting. I'm scared people will die."

Murphy and the committee said they look forward to seeing those new evaluation reports at the end of the year.

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