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Madison team to help coordinate approach to gun violence

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Madison area is taking a coordinated approach to gun violence with a new program that includes representatives of agencies from the city and Dane County, including nonprofit groups.

The Community Safety Intervention Team was created last year in response to increasing homicides and gunfire in 2016 and 2017, according to the Wisconsin State Journal. The team’s main goal is to address trauma and lessen the possibility for further violence.

“We recognized early on, there had to be intervention during incidents,” said Deputy Mayor Gloria Reyes. “We want to connect families to peer support and then resources. They were hot incidents. They could spiral out of control if we didn’t respond.”

The group includes representatives from the mayor’s office, police officers, school officials and UW Health representatives. They meet weekly at a local church to share updates on incidents and discuss ways to address violence that go beyond police work.

“We have to develop strategies to respond using partnerships with city, county, nonprofit organizations and private entities,” Reyes said. “We have to stop the impacts of generational trauma in our community.”

The agencies help families who may be in danger relocate, cover funeral costs and connect with social services. They also look for long-term strategies to reduce violence.

“To me, we’re acting as a community,” said Anthony Cooper Sr., a member of the community-based Focused Interruption Coalition. “It’s the village taking care of the village.”

The team worked to address the issue of youth stealing vehicles this winter. Members visited with youth to discuss the dangers of their actions and offered to help with problems at home or at school.

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