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CDC report advisory council unable to reach consensus on its mission

Megan Pauly
Delaware Public Media

An advisory council created to implement  recommendations from the CDC report on Wilmington gun violence convened Tuesday afternoon to start mapping out its mission.


Discussion focused largely on what the group’s goal should be prevention, intervention or a combination of both.

Vice President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley, executive director of the non-profit Delaware Center for Justice, said the two are on the same continuum, but suggested that trying to address both could be a goal too lofty for one council to tackle.


She also stressed the importance of intensive therapy for current offenders in the First State's criminal justice system.


“The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. It’s not working in Delaware. We have the resources in Delaware, we have willing partners. It’s about acting. It’s about doing the work. We know what the problem is, we don’t need another study, we need to act," Biden said.


Others including Matt Swanson, Chairman for Delaware Center for Health Innovation, echoed that concern, saying he wants to make sure the council understands that prevention and intervention are two separate initiatives.

“Is the scope of our work to - once identified - have the best services in place for those say, 50 kids who are identified in a given period of time or is it also to try to address the root causes and fundamental factors that are driving that number to be 50? Because we would ultimately want to see that go down to 20, and 10 and zero,” Swanson said.

Other council members worried the group could fall into endless discussion with no conclusion, drawing comparisons to the Wilmington Education Improvement Commission’s debate over redistricting of city schools which nearly derailed over language about funding.


“We’re trying to change the service delivery, we’re trying to change how the community responds. So I didn’t think it was going to be easy," Wilmington Councilwoman Hanifa Shabazz said. "I’m so glad I have some of the great brains and community advocates at the table to help make these decisions. And I think every time we come together we’re making much more progress.”

Council chair Dr. Henry Smith says he doesn’t want to come to another meeting without everyone on the same page about the mission of the council.

He recommends that instead of intervening at the “first sign of difficulty,” that the language be modified to “earliest sign of difficulty.”  However, the definition of “difficulty” also remains undetermined.

Smith adds that work is underway to create memorandums of understanding to establish an interagency data-sharing system, with University of Delaware offering technical assistance make it work logistically.

The council is slated to meet again at the end of April, but a date has yet to be set.

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