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Tallahassee City Commission unanimously approves plan to curb gun violence with multiple programs

Smoke rising from a handgun against a black background
Guy J. Sagi/Guy Sagi
Smoke rising from a handgun against a black background

The Tallahassee City Commission has unanimously approved a spending plan to curb gun violence in the new fiscal year. The plan includes support for a program called Group Violence Intervention, or GVI, which is backed by an alliance of local religious groups.

Commissioners had set aside $1 million for gun violence mitigation in Fiscal Year 2023, but without specifics. Those came in Wednesday’s workshop. GVI’s local ally, Ed Clark, introduced David Kennedy, director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College in New York City.

“Mr. Kennedy and the National Network support cities implementing strategic interventions to reduce violence, minimize arrests and incarceration, enhance police legitimacy and strengthen relationships between the law enforcement and communities,” Clark said. “These interventions have been proved effective in a variety of settings, have amassed a robust evaluation record and are widely employed nationally and internationally.”

Kennedy, participating online, said a tiny percentage of people is engaged in the majority of gun violence. The work of GVI is finding strategies and tools to modify their violence. Ultimately the city commissioners agreed to pay GVI $300,000 over two years to do that in Tallahassee. Kennedy said he expects this to save the city money over time.

“Our very strong expectation is that this will mean that Tallahassee sees less law enforcement, not more,” he said. “More effective law enforcement, but a great deal less of actual arrest and everything that goes with it. We’ll be very disappointed if that’s not the case.”  

Commissioners also allocated $500,000 to the Community Human Services Partnership for grants that specifically address gun violence. For instance, the Council on the Status of Men and Boys could receive funding this way. And the commission allocated $200,000 a year for two years for restorative justice programs, which work to rehabilitate offenders by helping them reconcile with victims and the wider community.

Ed Clark said Tallahassee is a small enough community to do this together.

“The GVI framework that we’re proposing will allow us to leverage what exists in the community and bring these factions together,” said Clark. “I know there’s some competition for limited funding, but hopefully we will figure out a way to fund those entities that can be impactful under one umbrella and have an impact in our community.”  

Kennedy said GVI wouldn’t suggest a remedy that doesn’t respect the effective people and programs already in place in Tallahassee.

Follow @MargieMenzel

Margie Menzel covers local and state government for WFSU News. She has also worked at the News Service of Florida and Gannett News Service. She earned her B.A. in history at Vanderbilt University and her M.S. in journalism at Florida A&M University.