We all know how to stop bleeding.
When our child cuts a finger, we clean the wound and wrap it tightly with adhesive tape.
We apply pressure.
Violence prevention is no different. When an effort is measured and thoughtful and constant, research has shown that the violence can subside.
Release this pressure and the blood will flow again.
This has been a problem in Columbus for years.
There has been a lot of talk about the police not being able to solve this on their own, which is absolutely correct. And there are many grassroots groups working to reach young people at risk, reduce long-standing economic and racial inequalities, and curb violence. In a neighborhood on the South Side, residents have been there for more than 11 years.
But when it comes to city government, that pressure has eased. More attention has been paid lately as the soaring homicide rate continued into 2020 through 2021.
There are many good people in town who are working to change that. We may not be familiar with all of them, but that may have less to do with their messaging than with our willingness to hear them.
Last week I spoke to some of them, members of the interreligious group BROT – Building responsibility, equality and dignity.
BROT played a key role in the city’s decision to hire the well-known criminologist David Kennedy and his team for the city National network for safe communities evaluate recent violence and what drives it.
BREAD works on a variety of social justice concerns, from restorative justice to equitable housing. For several years the group has been urging the city to pursue external expertise and establish strategies for preventing violence.
Knowing that I had written about the violence problem, the group members wanted to tell me where they wanted to take violence prevention.
The city agreed to a $ 80,000 contract with Kennedy and the NNSC to conduct the current violence assessment. BREAD wants the city to partner with Kennedy for another two years. Otherwise, BREAD rightly fears that Columbus could lose its momentum.
So how much are we talking about here? According to BREAD, the contract extension would cost $ 215,000.
I am not one to propose the worthless waste of taxpayers’ money. Keep in mind, however, that the city spent more than twice as much money paying a law firm to investigate the actions of the Columbus Police Department during last year’s protests, only Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Council President Shannon Hardin announced that they disagreed with the company’s results.
“We cannot put a price on the racial residents the residents are looking for,” Hardin said in a written statement released by his office at the time.
The same goes for violence, mainly gun violence, which killed 174 people last year.
“This is an absolute public health emergency,” said Dr. Jon Groner, a pediatric trauma surgeon at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and a member of BREAD.
In our discussion, the BREAD members mentioned another funding option worth considering.
In a city that prides itself on public-private partnerships, why hasn’t a single local industry captain hired to pay for such a thing? An established one local insurance companymaybe or A health care company is now seeking a tax break of $ 420 million?
Why that didn’t happen is unclear. Perhaps it’s because murders disproportionately affect parts of the city where residents are least empowered. Associating your business with murders may not be as profitable, even if you are helping to reduce it, like getting your name attached to a professional sports team.
Columbus has proven that it has the drive and ability to perform all kinds of services, if those services are considered vital to the city’s health. Some of these feats were accomplished after others thought they were impossible.
If we can raise our resources to save a soccer team, we can certainly do the same to save lives.