Multiple groups working together to reduce gun violence

Council on Status of Men & Boys, Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI) and partners, Photo courtesy: Brandi Roman

In the face of rising gun violence rates, Tallahassee is taking a proactive stance in the battle against this pressing issue. In collaboration with various partners, the Council on Status of Men & Boys, Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative (CVIPI) is at the forefront of this endeavor, working diligently to address the challenges and seek viable solutions.

The Council on Status of Men & Boys, under the leadership of Executive Director Royle King, held a press conference Friday to provide a 14-month update on their efforts to combat gun violence in the community. King articulated their mission, which revolves around developing a comprehensive violence reduction strategic plan.

“A big part of what we’ve been doing is actively engaging in developing a violence reduction strategic plan with initiatives that we intend to be able to look at for implementation to be able to have reductions on gun violence in our community in the near term and in terms to come,” King said.

To accomplish this, they assembled a diverse team of community members. They conducted a series of meetings to better understand the problem and identify effective strategies to reduce violence in the community.

The CVIPI has spent the past year working closely with partners such as SalterMitchell PR, the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research, the Violence Reduction Program, and the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform. Together, they collected data and developed a strategic plan to tackle gun violence in Leon County.

President of SalterMitchell PR, Heidi Otway, presented the firm’s findings based on extensive research, including a survey, listening sessions with local groups, and in-depth interviews with affected residents. Their focus was on neighborhoods within ZIP codes 32301, 32304 and 32310, with the highest gun-related incidents.

“Once our research was completed, our analysis of the responses from the community revealed that when it came to the perceptions of safety, the majority of respondents said that they felt safe in their neighborhoods during the day and at night,” Otway said. “However, a significant number of survey respondents were concerned about gun violence, with many saying they feared losing a close friend or loved one to gun violence or themselves being shot.”

Thomas G. Blomberg, executive director of the Center for Criminology and Public Policy Research at Florida State University, led a team tasked with identifying the causes of violent crimes in Leon County and developing evidence-based solutions. Their research led to a focused deterrence model presented in the Leon County Community-Based Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative: Phase 1 Report.

The report recommended strategies that incorporate hot spot policing, problem-oriented policing, and community-oriented policing. The objective is to target the most at-risk neighborhoods and individuals, effectively addressing the issue of gun violence.

In a separate interview, Tallahassee City Commissioner Curtis Richardson discussed the initiatives and campaigns being developed in response to this issue. The city allocated $1 million to local Tallahassee gun prevention organizations and initiatives in October 2022, emphasizing the importance of community engagement.

One such campaign is focused on reducing the incidence of loaded guns left in vehicles.

Richardson revealed that many gun violence cases in the city are committed with stolen guns from unlocked cars.

“The police department has told us that 53% of the gun violence acts that have been committed in the community have been done with stolen loaded guns from unlocked cars,” Richardson said. “So, we’ve got a campaign going now encouraging people to either take the guns out of their car and secure them in their home or put them in a secure place unloaded in their car.”

Tallahassee is actively seeking solutions to reduce gun violence and enhance community safety. The combined efforts of government, community leaders and local organizations show a commitment to addressing this critical issue and making the city safer for all its residents. The battle against gun violence in Tallahassee is a testament to the power of community-led initiatives and the collaboration of diverse stakeholders dedicated to the greater good.