Dane Co. health leaders, nonprofits pledge to reduce gun violence in Madison

MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) – Gun violence prevention and reduction is a key focus for Dane County health officials and area non-profits following five shots fired incidents within 24 hours.

“We have to be creative to figure out how we steer young people the right way,” Boys and Girls Clubs of Dane County President and CEO Michael Johnson said. “How do we do things differently to be able to support them?”

He hopes to provide a positive influence and get children away from adults participating in violent behavior.

”I’m hoping that some of the young people that might be caught up into this lifestyle or some of the challenges that they’re facing that we can get them employed and train them to become plumbers, carpenters, electricians and business owners,” Johnson said.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness, or NAMI, connects individuals involved in gun violence and police officers with helpful resources.

“Trauma does have an impact on an individuals mental health,” NAMI Dane County Executive Director Anna Moffit said. “The more we can reach people and help them better understand how it can impact them, and what’s out there if they’re struggling, is another key part of our work.”

Public Health Madison and Dane County works to end the cycle of violence for people who participate in gun violence, explained Planning and Evaluation Policy Director Aurielle Smith

”We want to make sure that when we’re establishing contact with these individuals we’re not further promoting or creating any type of trauma for them,” Smith said. “We built the table. And we’re at a point we recognize the table is not big enough. We’re kind of crowding in so we need to make a bigger table so we all fit.”

Each organization agreed with Madison Police Department Chief Shon Barnes’ statement from Thursday.

“We need the police. We need our partners at public health. We need our non-profits. We need all hands on deck,” Barnes had said.

“We don’t want Madison to turn into the Southside of Chicago,” Johnson said. “So if we educate young people, invest in non profit organizations we mitigate kids from getting involved in these kinds of issues I believe some of these things will go away but it’s going to take time, resources and it’s going to take collaboration to make that happen.”

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