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State, federal resources available to counter Fort Pierce gun violence

Local governments have billions of dollars in federal funding they can apply for
Posted at 7:27 PM, May 21, 2024

FORT PIERCE, Fla. — After four shootings in just three days in the city of Fort Pierce, WPTV is working to tackle the issue of gun violence and call for accountability.

At Monday night's city commission meeting, Mayor Linda Hudson and commissioners said they don't know what the solution is in addressing gun violence.

"Well, do you know what the solution is?" Hudson asked WPTV's Ethan Stein.

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NewsChannel went looking for answers to tackle the gun violence issue.

WPTV reporter Kate Hussey contacted at least eight different resources across the state and country and found local governments actually have billions of dollars in federal funding they can apply for.

The U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Justice Programs provides violence intervention resources and offers grants to municipalities who apply to help develop and implement community violence intervention initiatives.

The city of Tampa in 2022 was awarded $1.5 million for that purpose, and the city of Orlando was awarded a similar grant this past March.

According to AmericanProgress.org, several states, including California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, New York and Oregon, passed laws approving the use of Medicaid money for gun violence prevention after President Joe Biden's administration opened up the opportunity in 2021.

Nick Wilson, the senior director of the Center for American Progress's Gun Violence Prevention, said an easy place for communities to start is to tap into funding from the Safer Communities Act to implement more after-school programs and mental health counselors

He also said initiating an Office of Violence Prevention at the city level is a possibility.

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"The first thing we suggest is getting the community members who are most concerned, get people from the schools, from the mayor's office, from the community together to start thinking about 'What are the unique problems facing our community?' and then bring in experts and partners to help develop programs to target those unique problems," Wilson said.

According to Everytown for Gun Safety, billions of dollars in American Rescue Plan Funding are also available to cities and counties to help local officials bolster gun violence intervention programs, including youth engagement and employment initiatives.

WPTV also contacted the Florida Right Restoration Commission (FRRC), which has partnered with the city of Orlando to mitigate gun violence.

Nick Wilson discusses ways cities can work to reduce gun violence in their neighborhoods.
Nick Wilson discusses ways cities can work to reduce gun violence in their neighborhoods.

FRRC's Raysean Brown told Hussey he was hired by the city of Orlando's Children and Families Division to start a Community Violence Initiative (CVI) and believes it is at least partially responsible for the city's 37% decrease in crime.

WPTV has since been working to connect Fort Pierce city officials with Brown, who hopes he can come to Fort Pierce and accomplish the same thing he did in Orlando.

RELATED LINKS:

  • Click here to learn how to tap into funding via the American Rescue Act
  • Click here to learn more about funding available through the Safer Communities Act.
  • Click here to learn more about how Medicaid can help mitigate gun violence.
  • Click here to learn about the Florida Rights Restoration Commission and their mission