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CDC releases final report on Wilmington’s high rates of gun violence


The CDC released the final report of its analysis of Wilmington’s high rates of gun violence Tuesday.



The report studied almost 600 people, mostly men, mostly under 30, who had committed a crime with a firearm, like a homicide or armed robbery, between 2009 and 2014.

It found that risk factors like poverty, low educational levels, a traumatic home life and unemployment were all strong indicators of gun violence.


"And what I am learning is that you really want to pay attention to the highest risk populations. And then do more of a wraparound service delivery and supports at all levels," said Department of Health and Social Services Secretary Rita Landgraf.


That’s exactly what the CDC is recommending -- a risk assessment tool that could catch a high-risk young person before he commits a gun  crime. That tool would combine data from different social service agencies to flag high risk individuals. Service providers would then try to intervene with the right therapy or or job placement program before the individual commits a firearm crime.  

Landgraf says that privacy concerns and resource challenges are potential barriers to the pilot risk assessment tool.

She says a community advisory board that can issue recommendations on helping at risk youth is also in the works.


Wilmington City Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz first sought the study in a December 2013 resolution. Mayor Dennis Williams officially requested CDC assistance in January 2014, and the state's Division of Public Health followed suit in June 2014, since formal requests to the CDC must come from the states. CDC researchers were in Wilmington from June to July 2014.


The data used in the final report includes arrest records for violent gun crimes from January 2009 to May 2014, along with administrative medical, child welfare, criminal, employment and educational records from 2000 to 2014. CDC researchers did their analysis between June 2014 and March 2015

Councilwoman Shabazz recently criticized how long it took to issue the final report. Tuesday, she called on state and city officials to move with the utmost speed to implement the CDC's recommendations, saying Wilmington cannot afford to wait another year or two to act after waiting nearly two years for the report.

“I will be extremely disappointed if we are still debating how to get this type of system in place even six months from now,” said Shabazz in a statement. “Many pieces of this puzzle are already in place and I trust that the Governor, his cabinet-level appointees and those of us who are in leadership roles in the city are ready to get to work immediately on implementing the CDC recommendations.”

Mayor Williams welcomed the report in a statement, embracing the concept of taking preventive measures rather than relying solely on policing.


"The report indicates that all community stakeholders must begin exploring a preventative approach as we respond to violent crime," said Williams in his statement. "Policing should only represent one area of a comprehensive strategy to attack gun violence, but we must also proactively target and provide the necessary services to those individuals who are most likely to become violent offenders in the future." 


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