Community leaders gather to discuss violence intervention strategies

Published: Jan. 23, 2023 at 5:20 PM CST
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BESSEMER, Ala. (WBRC) - Community leaders, both near and far, gathered at the Western Health Department in Bessemer Monday to discuss a topic we’ve become all too familiar with recently: gun violence.

This two-day event is designed to give community leaders strategies to develop a holistic vision of what violence intervention can look like in their cities.

“It is a heightened situation. It’s a situation of urgency, and it’s something that we truly have to get on top of because it has gotten on top of us,” said Chief Operating Officer of the Offender Alumni Association, Dena Dickerson.

Dickerson and other said they want peace in their communities, and through the Live Free Peacemaker Bootcamp, they discussed what drives gun violence and strategies to combat it.

“Right now, gun violence is at an all-time high and what we’re looking at is that persons between the ages of 19 and 39 are those that are directly impacted the most. However, those that are actually losing their lives to gun violence here in Birmingham, the ages are getting even lower,” Dickerson explained.

Organizers said there are four proven violence reduction strategies cities can implement to reduce gun violence.

They include identifying individuals and groups at the highest risk for gun violence, implementing hospital-based violence intervention programs, street outreach, and curing violence by changing community norms.

“Recent investments by the Biden-Harris Administration have made funding available to implement Community Violence Intervention strategies at a higher scale than previously,” said Violence Interventionist, Dr. Shani Buggs.

“They are not the only way to prevent violence and yet, these are strategies that can work to most immediately to intervene and interrupt cycles of violence,” Dr. Buggs said.

Those who attended Monday’s meeting were encouraged share the information they learned with at least 10 other people.

They’re hoping the more information and awareness that gets into our communities, the better the outcomes will be.

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