By ALEXANDRA JAFFE, Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Biden government on Thursday convened the first meeting of their Joint Violence Intervention Collaboration, a group of mayors and civil servants who will share best practices and work closely with the federal government to reduce gun violence.
The White House has touted its investment in these programs as one of the ways to reduce gun violence and fight crime as Republicans increasingly seek to use a nationwide surge in violent crime as a political stick against the Democrats before the halfway point next year Elections.
According to information first disclosed to The Associated Press, the meeting on Thursday was chaired by Susan Rice, Director of the White House Home Affairs Council and Julie Rodriguez, Director of the Bureau of Intergovernmental Affairs. It included the mayors of 10 cities involved in the 15-city collaboration: Atlanta; Chicago; Baltimore; Los Angeles; Philadelphia; Newark, New Jersey; Miami-Dade County, Florida; St. Paul, Minnesota; Washington, DC; and Austin, Texas.
Mayors will meet monthly throughout the summer and into the fall to share best practice.
âWe hope and expect that this process will strengthen the programs in these 15 jurisdictions, but also give the experts at the table and the federal government more expertise on the success of these programs, which we can then use in other communities once we have done so. “Additional federal dollars,” said Stef Feldman, senior advisor to the director of the Home Affairs Council.
Community violence intervention programs focus both on preventing violent crime and on empowering local community leaders to work with those who are believed to be at risk of engaging in or falling victim to armed violence Health, economic, and other social programs can combine to try to reduce the likelihood that violence will be used to resolve conflicts.
The government has drawn attention to a report by the Giffords Law Center on Gun Violence Prevention that such programs can reduce community violence by up to 60%.
The idea of ââcollaboration between cities, government officials, nonprofits and experts working on programs to combat violence in the community was part of the overall strategy President Joe Biden unveiled in late June to target a “marked” increase in summer crime as he warned as restrictions on the COVID-19 pandemic have eased. Biden’s plan focuses on providing money to cities in need of more police force, providing community support, and tackling gun violence and people who deliver illegal firearms.
Still, much of the strategy consisted largely of recommendations to local jurisdictions on the use of federal funds. And it reflected, in part, an awareness that there is only so much the federal government can do to reduce gun crime as stricter gun control measures languish on Capitol Hill, where an evenly divided Congress makes passage unlikely.
Biden also highlighted the fact that $ 350 billion in state and local funds from the government’s COVID-19 Relief Act can be used to hire new police officers, invest in crime-fighting technology and equipment, and programs to combat violence to promote in the community.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has pledged $ 5 million of those funds to support a community violence intervention program in her city, while Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney has pledged $ 25 million to $ 30 million to invest in federal funds from the Aid Act in the community-based public security strategies.
Bottoms, a longtime ally of Biden, said in an AP interview that “we saw a lot of emotion on our streets.” She said the city was initially concerned about an increase in crime in the summer – but federal investment helped .
“We have a limited amount of resources, a limited amount of male and female power,” she said. “When you’re tackling something this big, it helps to have this tech support.”