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Congresswoman Wilson Takes Leadership Role in Working with Key Stakeholders to Address Gun Violence

Miami, FL – On Monday, July 2, Congresswoman Frederica S. Wilson met with U.S. Attorney Benjamin Greenberg, local law enforcement officials and other stakeholders to discuss gun violence and keeping children safe in District 24 and throughout Miami-Dade County. It was very timely in light of the alarming number of shootings that have occurred. In Miami Gardens alone, 10 people have been shot since June 16 and in the past decade, 300 children have lost their lives to gun violence.

Participants included State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle; Chief Assistant Jose Arrojo, State Attorneys Office; Vice-Chairwoman Audrey Edmonson, Miami Dade County Commission; Miami Mayor Francis Suarez; Miami Police Chief Jorge Colina; Director Juan Perez, Miami Dade Police; Deputy Director Alfredo Ramirez, III, Miami Dade Police; Public Defender Carlos Martinez; Superintendent Alberto Carvahlo; Chief Edwin Lopez, Miami Dade County Public Schools Police; Deputy Mayor Maurice Kemp; and Director Morris Copeland.

"It is vitally important that key leaders and stakeholders join forces to curb and ultimately end the gun violence that is plaguing our communities. Our goal was to brainstorm ideas to achieve these goals and then work collaboratively whenever possible to turn those ideas into action," said Congresswoman Wilson. "This is a team effort and we are all deeply committed to using every resource at our disposal to keep our communities and our children safe."

During the meeting, Congresswoman Wilson discussed her efforts in Washington and locally to curb gun violence, and outlined opportunities for local, state, and federal officials to work jointly to reduce gun violence in Miami-Dade.

Earlier this year, Congresswoman Wilson held a gun violence town hall in her district to get input from the community and other stakeholders. In May, she convened a congressional hearing at which high school students from District 24, Parkland and other parts of the nation testified about the devastating impact that gun violence has had on their young lives. Additionally, she urged members of the House Appropriations Committee to provide robust funding for federal programs targeting gun violence and public safety.

Last month, Congresswoman Wilson introduced several gun violence prevention measures, including H.R. 6297 - The Assault Weapon Ban and Regulatory Reform Act of 2018: This bill will put the nation on a path to banning all assault weapons. It builds on the Assault Weapons Ban Act of 2018 by requiring the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives to establish a new regulatory framework to evaluate guns on the market and determine whether they are assault weapons on their capacity to injure and kill rather than just their features and names.

The meeting participants also discussed expanding efforts within their offices to keep students safe in and outside of school.

Congresswoman Wilson suggested that boxes be placed in every school so that children can share problems, tips and perceived threats that will be retrieved by school resource officers. She also stressed the need for early intervention to prevent boys and young men from joining gangs and engaging in other activities that lead to gun violence. She cited the 5000 Role Models of Excellence Project, an in-school mentoring and drop-out prevention program that she founded 25 years ago, as a mechanism that works and shows young people that they have many options to help them succeed. She also shared a brochure that the program shares with the boys that teach them how to interact with law enforcement officers

"Gang violence is a generational curse too often passed down from fathers and uncles. It is imperative that we do everything that we can to break it as swiftly as possible," Congresswoman Wilson said.

The group also talked about the need for increased funding for monitoring devices near and outside of schools and putting substations in public housing complexes to help monitor crime and gun violence. Congresswoman Wilson pledged to strongly support applications for grants to carry out these efforts and identified several sources of funding, including:

Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant, which is a federal program designed to support local law enforcement programs across the country. ​It is the largest source of federal funding for state, local, and tribal public safety activities and can be used for a variety of crime-prevention efforts, including programs that address issues that might be giving rise to increases in violent crime.

Community Oriented Policing Services' (COPS) Hiring Program, which provides funding directly to state, local, and tribal law enforcement agencies to support hiring additional law enforcement officers to address specific crime problems, like gun violence, through community policing strategies.

The Innovations in Community Based Crime Reduction Program, which supports data-driven, comprehensive and community-oriented strategies to reduce crime and spur revitalization. Through a broad cross-sector partnership team, including neighborhood residents, CBCR grantees target neighborhoods with hot spots of violent and serious crime and employs data-driven, cross-sector strategies to accomplish this goal.

Project Safe Neighborhoods, which is designed to create safer neighborhoods through a sustained reduction in crime associated with gang and gun violence. The program's effectiveness is based on the cooperation of local, state, and federal agencies engaged in a unified approach led by the U.S. attorney in each district. U.S. attorneys are responsible for establishing a collaborative PSN taskforce of federal, state, and local law enforcement and other community members to implement gang and gun crime enforcement, intervention, and prevention initiatives within their district.​

Congresswoman Wilson has successfully worked with local and federal law enforcement agencies to secure funding to support crime-fighting initiatives in Miami-Dade County. In 2016, she helped secure $5 million in U.S. Department of Justice public safety grants for Metropolitan Dade County and the City of Miami. In 2014, she successfully fought for a $1,000,000 DOJ grant to help the county focus on gun violence hot spots.

Congresswoman Wilson also committed to filing legislation to set aside additional funding for areas experiencing increased gun violence, since the largest public safety grants are formula based.