Springfield eligible for state funding to confront gun violence – The State Journal-Register

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Abby Edwards of Springfield sits next to lists containing the names of children who have died in mass school shootings since Columbine during a March for Our Lives Against Guns Violence rally June 11 at the state Capitol. In the background, left to right, are Tracy Owens of the Resistor Sisterhood, Britt Tate, and Keri Tate, also of the Resistor Sisterhood.

Following an announcement by Gov. JB Pritzker earlier this week, Springfield is one of 16 municipalities eligible for a portion of $100 million in state grant funding to boost gun violence prevention measures.

The Illinois General Assembly passed the Reimagine Public Safety Act, funded by the American Rescue Plan Act, last year. Through RSPA, non-profit organizations and local governments can apply this month for the grants.

“This administration is delivering historic levels of violence prevention funding to interrupt violence and keep our communities safe,” the governor said in a released statement. “This funding will support on-the-ground work from people with the community knowledge and passion necessary to make substantive change.”

Pritzker expressed gratitude for the work conducted by Local Advisory Councils, who made recommendations to the state to best address violence in their communities. Springfield’s LAC is made up of law enforcement officials, local and state legislators, a professor with the SIU School of Medicine and the Springfield Boys & Girls Club.

Springfield and the 15 other municipalities fit the criteria based on population (less than 1 million residents) and because of their prevalence of gun violence. According to data from the Illinois Department of Public Health, Springfield had 41 fatal and 151 non-fatal shooting victims from 2016 to 2020. With a rate 33.6 per 20,000 residents, the city trailed fellow central Illinois cities such as Peoria (61.9 per 20,000) and Decatur (57.9 per 20,000).

Related:FOID, red flags and restraining orders: How state laws regulate firearm purchases

The Office of Firearm Violence Prevention, part of the Illinois Department of Human Services, reached out to LACs for recommendations on how to combat community gun violence earlier this year. These recommendations are part of what’s called the Greater Illinois Funding Strategy, which emphasizes efforts such as violence prevention, youth intervention and development and trauma-informed mental health services.

“This round of funding is another step toward making every single community safer across the State,” said Chris Patterson, OFVP assistant secretary, in a statement. “The latest investments being made to address violence in Illinois have the potential to be so impactful. We all have a responsibility to address gun violence trauma and to prevent it.”

Many councils, including Springfield’s, also supported greater collaboration between the community and law enforcement. Specifically, the Springfield LAC expressed support for the focused deterrence model, which the National Institute of Justice — the research wing of the U.S. Department of Justice — describes as a policing measure that concentrates enforcement on violent crime hot-spots.

With the city still experiencing vacancies in its police department, the question remains whether implementation of these goals are feasible. Springfield Police Chief Ken Scarlette, a member of the LAC, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Related:As Springfield swears in new police officers, challenges remain in filling vacancies

Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis last November and requested a $250 million state investment through RPSA over the next three years. Nearly $240 million in funding has been dedicated to boost youth development and violence prevention efforts statewide for fiscal years 2022, 2023 and 2024.

This recent announcement comes after $113 million was made available in May and a later $10 million in funding dedicated primarily to Chicago and other areas of the state prior to the beginning of the summer. IDHS oversees this funding and is still accepting grant applications for the $113 million.

Illinois is not alone when it comes to announcing gun violence prevention efforts. It was joined by President Joe Biden this week when he touted the Safer America Plan during a Tuesday Pennsylvania visit. Among several provisions of the plan, SAP calls for a $13 billion investment to hire up to 100,000 additional police officers nationwide.

The American Civil Liberties Union described the plan after its introduction last month as a mixed bag — supporting its investments into education and social services. What the ACLU did not favor was the law enforcement hiring increase, marking its similarity with the 1994 crime bill.

“While we are pleased with the president’s commitment to investing in communities, we strongly urge him not to repeat the grave errors of the 1990s — policies that exacerbated racial disparities, contributed to widespread police abuses, and created our current crisis of mass incarceration,” said ACLU deputy legal director Yasmi Cader in a released statement.

Contact Patrick Keck: 312-549-9340, pkeck@gannett.com, twitter.com/@pkeckreporter

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September 6, 2022 at 04:23PM

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