Governor Whitmer Proposes $30 Million Investment to Fund Violence Prevention and Reduction Initiatives

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE   

November 2, 2021   

Contact: Press@Michigan.gov   

Governor Whitmer Proposes $30 Million Investment to Fund Violence Prevention and Reduction Initiatives 

Third pillar of $75 million MI Safe Communities framework would back community violence intervention and prevention grants 

LANSING, Mich. - Today, Governor Gretchen Whitmer proposed a $30 million investment to reduce violence in communities across Michigan by establishing a range of community violence prevention initiatives informed by data and best practices used nationwide. The proposal is part of the larger $75 million MI Safe Communities framework the governor laid out in July, which would utilize federal funding from the American Rescue Plan to reduce crime and keep families safe by tackling the court backlog, expanding resources available to law enforcement, and uplifting communities by making investments in jobs programs, counseling, and education. 

"By tackling the root causes of violence and investing resources to prevent it, we can save lives, reduce crime, and help families feel safe," said Governor Whitmer. "As a former prosecutor, public safety is a top priority, and the MI Safe Communities framework will help law enforcement officers do their jobs more effectively. I will work with anyone to bring down crime and help Michiganders feel safe in their community. Together, we can build a safer, more just Michigan where every family can thrive, where every kid can get a great education, and where every person has a path to a good-paying, high-skill job." 

"Investing in safe communities is critical, and Michigan's counties welcome an enhanced state partnership in this effort," said Stephan Currie, Executive Director of Michigan Association of Counties. "A primary county function is to protect public safety through sheriff, prosecutor and judicial offices. The increased awareness of individuals with mental illness in our criminal justice system has led to innovative partnerships and locally driven responses. We applaud investment in efforts to reduce violence, support law enforcement and ensure individuals with mental illness are getting the community support they deserve.  

"The Michigan Center for Youth Justice applauds Governor Whitmer's focus on gun violence prevention with proposed targeted investments in programs and interventions that have been proven to work," said Jason Smith, Executive Director at Michigan Center for Youth Justice.  "Michigan's young people deserve to live in a safe neighborhood. Providing youth and young adults with trauma-informed, healing-based treatment and resources will improve safety for everyone."  

"On behalf of Hope Network, we applaud additional funding for mental services in our communities," said Joe Haveman, Director of Government Relations for the Hope Network. "I'm especially excited to learn more about services for high risk youth and young adults. Any time that we encourage a young person to go down the right path, it is money well spent. Adolescent years are our best chance to change lives and keep our kids from entering our justice system as young adults." 

"We enthusiastically support this investment in violence prevention in our state," said Jonquil S. Bertschi, executive director at End Violent Encounters. "We are particularly excited about the focus on trauma informed, culturally competent services that will reduce the violence that the survivors we work with experience." 

The $30 million investment will go to communities with the highest increases in violent crime. Community-based violence intervention and prevention (CVI) programs apply an effective, localized approach to gun violence reduction, providing evidence and community-informed, comprehensive support to individuals who are at greatest risk of gunshot victimization. CVI programs utilize credible messengers to directly mediate conflicts, intervene before violence occurs, and connect people to needed resources. By addressing the root causes of violence, these proactive strategies are shown to rapidly reduce gunshot wounds and deaths in the neighborhoods most impacted by gun violence, saving lives and preventing tragedies while also reducing the astronomical economic costs of violence for community members, business owners, and taxpayers. They will be divided into thirty $1 million grants. 

Examples of CVI programs include: 

Mental Health, Substance Abuse and Sexual Assault Services: Prior victimization, untreated mental health issues, and substance abuse are all risk factors for violence. Effective CVI strategies directly provide services to address these risk factors and, when appropriate, make referrals to partner organizations that can help meet the needs of high-risk individuals. This includes referrals to trauma recovery services for crime victims.   

Wraparound Services for High-Risk Youth and Young Adults: In Michigan, more than half of all gun homicide victims are young people between the ages of 15 and 29. Research shows that violence rates for this demographic can drop dramatically when young people are provided culturally competent case management, opportunities for healing, and practical vocational readiness and placement training. This program would provide grants to community-based organizations in high-violence neighborhoods to implement wraparound services for young adults from ages 15-29 that are at "high risk" of engaging in or being victimized by violence (this population often overlaps significantly). 

Hospital-based Violence Intervention Programs (HVIPs): This strategy helps break the cycle of violence by leveraging credible violence intervention and prevention specialists to provide intensive counseling, peer support, case management, mediation, and social services to patients recovering from gunshot wounds and other violent injuries. Research has shown that violently injured patients are at high risk of being revictimized by violence in the near future or even retaliating with violence themselves. Evaluations of HVIPs find that patients who receive services are often less likely to be convicted of a subsequent violent crime, and less likely to be violently reinjured than patients who did not receive HVIP services. 

General Grant: multi-year, competitive grant program for Michigan cities disproportionately impacted by violence and community-based organizations within those cities to implement and expand effective, trauma-informed violence reduction initiatives focused on high-risk young people. This program will also help build local capacity in Michigan to reduce violence by providing grant recipients with access to technical assistance and training, evaluation support, and coordination.  

MI Safe Communities 

The $30 million investment Governor Whitmer laid out today was the result of hundreds of conversations the governor and her team had with law enforcement officers, community leaders, faith leaders, and families over several months. Based on those conversations, the governor announced the three-pillar, $75 million MI Safe Communities framework in July. 

MI Safe Communities would: 

  • Invest more money into Michigan's police departments to strengthen training policies and programs and foster collaboration between the Michigan State Police and local departments on specialty services. 
  • Increase the number of visiting judges with funding for prosecution and defense to tackle the backlog of criminal cases that has piled up during the pandemic, to protect the rights of defendants and help the justice system operate more efficiently while maintaining public safety. 
  • Make comprehensive investments to expand opportunity through Michigan's education, jobs, and justice system including violence intervention programs that deliver social services to hospital patients recovering from violent injuries and prevent further violence and injuries. 

Funding Law Enforcement 

Since taking office, the governor has signed budget bills delivering $1.4 billion to local governments to help them fund local police, fire departments, and emergency medical services. She has also delivered $40 million in COVID hazard pay for local officers and first-responders and over $10 million premium pay for MSP troopers. These dollars help ensure police are better equipped to fight crime today and have the resources to fight crime tomorrow.   

Budget 

In September, the governor signed the Fiscal Year 2022 budget bill that delivers on the kitchen-table fundamental issues that uplift communities and enable Michiganders to pursue their potential. The budget puts 167,000 Michiganders on a tuition-free path to higher-education or skills training, expandlow or no-cost childcare to 105,000 kids, repairs or replaces 100 bridges while creating 2,500 jobs, and more. 

Earlier this year, Governor Whitmer and legislature also worked together to put Michigan students first and passed the largest significant education investment in state history, closing the funding gap between schools in Michigan and including a historic amount of resources for schools to hire more nurses, counselors, and social workers. Early investments in mental and social health help reduce crime in the long run. 

###