Advocates Support Legislation to Help County Efforts with Violence Prevention
Legislation establishing a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention was introduced recently by Assemblyman Jamel Holley (D-Union).
The bill (A-4563) would create a Division on Violence Prevention and Intervention within the Department of Law and Public Safety. The division would help to ensure that each county provides access to well-coordinated violence prevention resources to residents.
“We can do more to help counties reduce all forms of violence in their communities with access to the right resources,” said Holley (D-Union). “Centralizing these resources in one division with a charge that focuses only on violence reduction and prevention will help.”
Recent reports say New Jersey has seen a surge in fatal shootings this year, 19 percent. Domestic violence cases in New Jersey have been predicted to rise under the restraints of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We are all concerned about the recent news of increased shootings in the state. We also need to continue to worry about helping families in domestic violence situations receive the help they need,” continued Holley. “Designating one person to lead the charge to help counties identify their needs and the best programs to assist them is critical to reducing violence throughout the state.”
“Violence in America is a public health crisis. This legislation will establish an ongoing focus on methods to prevent violence. It’s a welcome initiative to improve the quality of life of all New Jersey residents,” said Former Senator Raymond Lesniak for the Lesniak Institute for American Leadership.
“Finally this bill comes at the right time. Violence continues to destroy lives and disrupt communities. Assemblyman Holley’s courageous efforts will help to prevent gun violence, domestic violence, and police brutality such as the incident that led to the death of George Floyd,” said Salaam Ismail, Director National United Youth Council Inc.
Under the bill, the division would be led by a Director of Violence Prevention and Intervention, who would be appointed by the Attorney General. The director is authorized under the bill to apply for and accept on behalf of the State any grants from the Federal Government or agency, or from any foundation, corporation, association or person, for any of the purposes of the division.
The bill would require the county prosecutor in each county to appoint or designate a violence prevention and intervention coordinator, who not an employee of the county prosecutor’s office.
Among the program coordinator’s duties are creating a directory of existing violence prevention services and activities in the county; recommending services to be funded by local governing bodies; and developing a network of volunteers and mentors within the community who can address issues such as youth violence and suicide prevention.
This measure implements one of the recommendations of New Jersey’s independent Study Commission on Violence in its report issued in October 2015.
The legislation is positioned for committee referral and review by the Assembly Speaker.