Mayor Dobies Spearheads $1.5M+ Investment In Police, Programming To Combat Neighborhood Gun Violence Epidemic

JACKSON, MI — Jackson Mayor Derek Dobies today announced a proposal to commit more than $1.5 million dollars in federal funding towards increased policing, and community violence intervention programming to reduce gun violence in the City of Jackson. The announcement comes as the City Council prepares to vote on a contract with the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay college to design and implement a Group Violence Intervention strategy.

“People are understandably frustrated and scared with the recent gun violence in our city. The violence is exacerbated by the hardship many face during the pandemic,” said Mayor Derek DOBIES. “We must prioritize funding evidence-based programming to target the small number of at-risk individuals composing an overwhelming majority of the gun violence and keep our neighborhoods and families safe.”

The proposal includes entering into a two year contract with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College to fund Group Violence Intervention programming to deter ask-risk individuals from engaging in violent activity and reduce gun violence.

With a $20,000 grant from the Jackson Community Foundation’s Community Needs Endowment Fund, NNSC partnered with the City of Jackson in 2019 to conduct a problem analysis of violence and its related dynamics within the City. The analysis confirmed that their services could be useful in helping us change the system of how we interact with groups that comprise the majority of the violence in the city.

The model is based on a core fact that most people in impacted communities are not at high risk for either victimization or offending. It is a very small number of identifiable street groups that drive the violence, and the people in them face extraordinary risk and trauma. GVI focuses on the groups at highest risk for violent victimization and offending, with the intention to keep those in them alive, safe, and out of prison.

The GVI partnership communicates directly with group members, conveying a powerful community message about disapproval for violence and in support of community aspirations; concrete opportunities for both immediate and longer-term assistance and support; and clear prior notice of the legal risks associated with continued violence.

Group Violence Intervention (GVI) is a model that has been endorsed by the United States federal government through its Project Safe Neighborhoods program, by American law enforcement groups, and by national advocacy groups. When properly implemented, cities see rapid reductions in serious violence — on the order of two-thirds for group related homicide.

Dobies said he wants funding to go not only to supporting the two years of funding to launch the GVI programming in the city, but to provide the adequate staff to support the programming. His proposal to the City Council funds a program coordinator, program operating budget, and at least two police social workers to provide services to community residents such as crisis intervention, mediation, and referrals for the next five years.

“Last year, in the wake of the George Floyd protests, we saw a vehement divide over the future of policing,” said Mayor Dobies. “This proposal shows that we can continue to fund the police, do what is statistically proven to reduce violence, and exude a culture of compassion as we respond to distress calls within our community. None of these things are mutually exclusive, and this proposal shows we will continue to be a leader in effective policing.”

In his memo to City Council, Dobies said the move to obligate resources will give police leaders the flexibility and leverage to work with LifeWays and the Jackson County Office of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services on ways to expand personnel and efficacy of programming in future budget cycles.

The Coronavirus Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (CLFRF), established by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, are required to be obligated by December 31, 2024 and fully expended by December 31, 2026.

In his 2019 State of the City address, Mayor Dobies organized a Gun Violence Task Force to study potential policies and programs to address gun violence — labeled a public health crisis by the American Medical Association and the American Public Health Association. It led to City Council’s then support for Cure Violence, an alternative community-based violence intervention program, that ultimately was delayed by the financial effects of the pandemic.

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Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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Derek Dobies

Derek Dobies

Proud father. Devoted husband. Mayor of the City of Jackson, MI.

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