January 2024

Columbus looks to strengthen its neighborhood violence prevention program

From NBC4

COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — A community-based program aimed at keeping kids out of trouble is in line to get a nearly $1 million boost.

Columbus City Council is taking two proposals to give $492,500 apiece to two groups that combat neighborhood violence, the Columbus Urban League and the Community for New Direction.

Columbus’ program works to prevent and intervene in gang-related violence, work toward peace agreements and connect kids with education on jobs. In 2023, the neighborhood violence prevention program intervened in nearly 40 situations that were escalating toward violence, and it helped get jobs, counseling and mentorship for 140 children.

“City council and the administration, the mayor’s office, they understand that we have to keep our neighborhoods safe,” Stephanie Hightower, president and CEO of the Columbus Urban League, said. “They want to make sure that there is no interruption of services that for us to continue to provide to our community to keep them safe.”

Both partnerships are intended to provide violence interruption and crisis response activities that include the following:
— Responding to specific violent confrontations
— Working to mediate and diffuse conflict tensions
— Actively promoting peace-building among youth

The two contractors will maintain a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week schedule to respond to calls regarding violent confrontations.

Hightower said that the nonprofits and the city are not only concerned with violence prevention but are focused on more.

“It’s more than just violence prevention,” Hightower said. “Some of the success indicators are, we help young people get jobs, we go in and we do services for their families. To make sure that their housing is stable, we are partnering with Columbus City Schools so that there are interventions that are going on [there].”

Dominique Shank from the city’s recreation and parks department, explained the reasoning behind the city’s potential partnerships.

“We want to see a decrease in violence amongst our youth,” Shank said. “It is important that through these collaborative approaches through trauma-informed, focused services that are provided in community-based settings, to be able to provide support, healing and restoration not only for them but for their families.”

The two ordinances were on first reading at Monday’s meeting. The next step will be a vote on Jan. 22.

Read here on NBC4