WISCONSIN — MILWAUKEE, Wis. — Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) has received more than $11 million in federal Covid relief funds from the city and state, but some residents are concerned that the city is seeing a return on that investment after more than 20 people were shot in the city over the weekend.
Tory Lowe, a community advocate, stated, “I don’t feel the Office of Violence Prevention has made a dent in seeking to prevent violence in Milwaukee.”
Lowe is suspicious of the Office of Violence Prevention’s efforts, especially now that its budget has been raised, despite the fact that violent crime and homicides in Milwaukee have climbed each year during the pandemic.
“When there’s a lot of violence and crime in an area, you have to roll up your sleeves, get personally involved, and build a relationship with the community to help them fight back,” he said.
Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention was founded 14 years ago with the goal of reducing shootings and saving lives in the city. It has an annual budget of $3.7 million, albeit that was before the American Rescue Plan Act funds were spent. Over the next five years, it will get $8.4 million from the state and $3 million from the municipal budget.
Arnitta Holliman, head of the Office of Violence Prevention, remarked, “We can’t be everywhere at the same time.” “We are unable to meet all of the demands of the community.”
Holliman has been the OVP director for the last year, according to the Milwaukee Health Department, managing eight employees and three job opportunities.
When asked whether she believes the Office of Violence Prevention is averting violence in light of current crime figures, Holliman stated, “Absolutely, violence is being prevented.” Those are the stories that go unreported, and I hold the media to the same standards as community members who must act.”
OVP adopts a public health approach to avoiding violence, according to Holliman, by being present in the city’s most dangerous neighbourhoods. She goes on to say that this is in addition to child and adolescent conflict resolution programmes.
Holliman said the specialised approach in crime-ridden areas includes proactive outreach to residents, neighbours, and business partners. It also entails having its partner, 414 Life, intervene in real-time to mediate disputes in order to prevent shootings or avoid retaliation later.
“A part of the $3 million in municipal expansion funds that we received will be spent over a period of time, so until 2026,” she said. “Not only will this help us grow as a team, but it will also help us expand our efforts to the south side.”
Governor Tony Evers dedicated $25 million to violence prevention programmes around the state late last year. Milwaukee got a third of the money.
“The violence we saw in Milwaukee this weekend is absolutely unconscionable,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul told TMJ4 News.”
Violence reduction, according to A.G. Kaul, is a possible strategy.
He said, “The sooner that money is put to good use, the better.” “I’m aware that some people are working to prevent violence, and that is an important part of what we must do.”
TMJ4 News called the Milwaukee Health Department, which oversees the Office of Violence Prevention, to ask about the office’s budget for this year, in light of the federal Covid relief money, but we have yet to get a response.
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