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Advisory Committee on CDC gun violence report aims to focus on policy advocacy

Sophia Schmidt, Delaware Public Media
The Wilmington Community Advisory Council (WCAC) held their annual report presentation at the Kingswood Community Center in Riverside Friday.

A committee working to enact CDC recommendations to reduce gun violence in Wilmington is offering an update on its efforts.


The Wilmington Community Advisory Council on gun violence presented its annual report Friday. The council formed after the CDC released its 2015 report investigating the causes of gun violence in Wilmington.

City Council President Hanifa Shabazz requested the CDC report. She says the Community Advisory Council’s main accomplishment over the past year has been connecting various pre-existing programs and initiatives, including ones offered by the Red Clay School District and state and local governments.

“We feel like we served as the connective tissue to bring those individuals together. We’re not reinventing the wheel, we are bringing all those different positive youth programs together,” she said.

Advisory Council Co-chair Tyrone Jones offered the example of Wilmington’s Department of Parks and Recreation’s 2018 Youth Career Development program. “Now how do we make sure that kids that are part of the summer youth employment program are connected to Safe Haven?” said Jones. According to the Council’s report, the state Division of Prevention and Behavioral Health Services supports Wilmington recreation and community centers in hosting the Extended Hours/Safe Haven program. “So you’re constantly trying to find a way in which to make sure that the services are linked, and linked effectively,” Jones added.

But this year, the Community Advisory Council plans to focus on state and local policy.

“Those who are proposing legislation and so forth, we need to look at those pieces of legislation to see what type of impact it’s going to have— so we can articulate specifically what we believe may need to be taken into consideration,” said Jones.

“There’s already a criminal justice reform package out there, we’re working to supporting that,” said Shabazz. “And then we’re looking to develop even more as we go along. But that’s our first focus now. And of course education.”

Friday's report indicates the group will focus on policy addressing barriers to education, barriers to reentry for youth offenders, transitions between juvenile and adult service systems, and administrative barriers.

The group also plans to begin gathering data on the success of its pilot projects, with help from CompassRed, Inc.

Several officials and council members cited the shooting of six people in Wilmington on Sunday as evidence for the urgency of the group’s work.

As of late March, the City of Wilmington had seen a 44 percent rise in  the number of shooting victims compared to the same period last year, according to Wilmington Police Department data. Shooting incidents were up twenty percent.


Sophia Schmidt is a Delaware native. She comes to Delaware Public Media from NPR’s Weekend Edition in Washington, DC, where she produced arts, politics, science and culture interviews. She previously wrote about education and environment for The Berkshire Eagle in Pittsfield, MA. She graduated from Williams College, where she studied environmental policy and biology, and covered environmental events and local renewable energy for the college paper.
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