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Milwaukee Blueprint for Peace

Office of Violence Prevention

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We must prevent gun violence, including homicides and non-fatal shootings, through strategic, timely, and coordinated efforts among residents and first responders. Timely data regarding the factors and location of violence is essential to identify hotspots of violent activity in the city and inform prevention efforts. Focused interventions must be implemented pre-incident, during an incident, and immediately following an incident to reduce the likelihood of continued violence. Inspanidual and community support post-incident is critical to reduce the impact of violence among those directly impacted through physical or emotional trauma. These interventions are critical for preventing retaliatory violence, and decreasing the likelihood of future incidents. Illegal gun possession increases the likelihood and lethality of violence and the Blueprint calls for the reduction of illegal access to guns for multiple forms of violence, including domestic violence, armed robbery, and suicide.

Training for first responders and other providers (e.g., educators, mental health providers, law enforcement, etc.) to reduce implicit bias and micro-aggressions reduce the likelihood and lethality of systemic violence. This goal will leverage evidence-based street outreach strategies by training members of the community to anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts. It will also leverage and expand proven hospital-based intervention programs. Further, this goal includes strategies to prevent domestic violence through improved lethality assessment and safety planning.

Recommended Strategies

  1. Use of timely, comprehensive data to prioritize prevention efforts
    1. Enhance local capacity to access, analyze, and utilize violence-related data from a variety of sources, including local emergency departments, emergency medical services, law enforcement, trauma centers, and the Milwaukee County Medical Examiner.
    2. Conduct regular reviews of incidents of violence in coordination with public health, hospital, law enforcement, and community partners.
  2. Reduce incidence of violence through proactive prevention efforts
    1. Utilize evidence-based outreach and violence interruption strategies to mediate conflicts, prevent retaliation and other potentially violent situations, and connect individuals to community supports58. These strategies include violence interruption and focused deterrence in neighborhoods and schools.
    2. Improve lethality assessment and safety planning measures to prevent domestic violence homicides and suicide.
    3. Continue Milwaukee Police Department training in the areas of crisis intervention, fair and impartial policing, and procedural justice.
    4. Expand implicit bias and micro-aggression reduction and de-escalation training to include first responders, mental health providers, community health workers, and other partners.
    5. Offer localized and culturally responsive crisis intervention support and referral services to prevent suicide and suicidal behavior.
  3. Respond to immediate individual and community needs post-incident
    1. Expand support services for survivors of violence through hospital-community partnerships and hospital-based violence intervention programs.
    2. Expand post-incident trauma healing supports, including community events and critical incident debriefing for victims, witnesses, and first responders connecting them to appropriate community supports.
  4. Decrease illegal gun availability
    1. Conduct dialogue and education to promote evidence-informed policies related to gun ownership and possession.
  5. Promote violence prevention as a way of life
    1. Support and promote individual capacity for conflict prevention, de-escalation and proactive bystander practices in schools and neighborhoods.

The Blueprint for Peace is committed to helping individuals, families, and communities heal from violence and trauma and move forward in positive ways. Research shows that access to services for physical and mental health, as well as healing, is important for building resilience. By recognizing the importance of post-care and healing that must occur across locations and populations in order to break the cycle of violence, this goal puts forth strategies to enhance services and supports for those experiencing trauma as a result of multiple forms of violence. It includes a strategy around preventing substance abuse – understanding that the prevalence of substance abuse can contribute to various forms of violent behavior. In addition to achieving justice for individuals and families harmed by violence, this goal also promotes healing at the community level by enhancing connections to cultural identity and promoting community connectedness, which can also serve as protective factors against future violence.

Recommended Strategies

1. Promote healing, behavioral health, and trauma reduction

  1. Provide trauma reduction and healing-informed care support to residents, professionals who address violence, and others experiencing primary and secondary trauma.
  2. Expand capacity of problem-solving courts to provide therapeutic resources and services for youth and adults involved in the criminal justice system, juvenile justice system, and child welfare system.
  3. Increase coordination of mental health and trauma services across agencies to support children, youth and families who have been exposed to multiple forms of violence.
  4. Prevent and treat substance abuse in priority neighborhoods.

2. Strengthen treatment and healing services for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence

  1. Expand awareness and access to survivor-centered sexual and domestic violence services.
  2. Advance policies that enhance safety of survivors before, during and after legal proceedings.
  3. Increase affordability and access to treatment services for perpetrators of domestic violence.

3. Identify and support people at risk for self-harm and suicide

  1. Train community members to identify people at risk for suicide/self-harm and respond effectively by facilitating access to support services.
  2. Support treatment to prevent suicide attempts such as discharge information sessions and active follow-up approaches to prevent suicide.

4. Improve cultural competence and support cultural identity of community members

  1. Build a pipeline of culturally-competent, non-traditional mental wellness and health care providers.
  2. Promote connections to faith and/or sense of cultural identity to advance individual and community healing and resilience.
  3. Promote culturally rooted healing, resilience, and social development for chronic and repeat juvenile offenders.

5. Strengthen and preserve healthy relationships

  1. Strengthen restorative justice in courts, child welfare institutions, schools, and community-based settings as a means to advance healing and repair relationships for survivors and perpetrators of violence and broader social networks.

Supporting families and the holistic development of children and youth can help prevent multiple forms of violence up front and across generations. Family support, commitment to school and connections to caring adults are all well-researched protective factors for safety. Family, school, and community environments (including local government policies) all play critical roles in preventing violence and supporting positive development during early life, childhood and adolescence. These life stages set the foundation for health outcomes, lowering the risk for future behavioral and academic problems. Strategies within this goal focus on strengthening the family unit by promoting healthy child development that can help prevent child abuse, neglect and maltreatment. Child maltreatment is associated with future antisocial and violent behavior, including juvenile delinquency, intimate partner violence, and adult criminality.

Bolstering school-based initiatives that promote social-emotional learning, mental health, healing and conflict resolution is also critical. This goal also addresses harmful gender norms that can contribute to teen dating violence and sexual and domestic violence. Finally, the Blueprint calls for strengthening and expanding after school and summer strategies for youth engagement. These strategies include quality after-school programs, mentorship, and youth employment opportunities that offer access to caring adults in safe and supportive environments. These opportunities provide youth with experiences to develop core competencies for current and future success.

Recommended Strategies

1. Promote healthy families and quality early learning to foster healthy child development

  1. Promote early childhood home visitation and positive parenting programs.
  2. Strengthen preschool enrichment with family engagement.
  3. Strengthen neighborhood centers as resources for families.
  4. Support father-child connectedness including opportunities for systems-involved fathers in priority neighborhoods.

2. Advocate for safe and inclusive school environments.

  1. Bolster school-based violence and trauma prevention for staff, students, and families.
  2. Empower young people to become violence prevention advocates and speak out against behaviors that promote violence. This includes reinforcing positive behavior, and offering support in situations where violence has occurred or may occur.
  3. Enhance opportunities for academic credit recovery and high school persistence and graduation.

3. Ensure youth are connected to positive, caring and reliable adults

  1. Strengthen quality, access, and coordination of mentorship and after-school/summer programs.

4. Decrease domestic violence and sexual assault

  1. Support leadership and empowerment programming for women and girls in priority schools and neighborhoods.
  2. Expand efforts to promote positive gender norms that support the formation of healthy relationships and healthy gender identity, including mobilizing men and boys as allies.
  3. Adopt comprehensive school-based sexual violence and teen dating violence prevention policies and practices that also address the needs of LGBTQ youth.
  4. Adopt a comprehensive approach to sexual health education.

5. Increase employment and workforce development opportunities for high-risk youth

  1. Increase coordination of youth job programs to link higher need youth to subsidized jobs and supportive services to strengthen employability and earn income concurrently.
  2. Develop re-engagement centers for young people ages 14-24 who have been disconnected from school and workforce to support skill development and reconnection to educational and employment opportunities.
  3. Work with employers to increase job opportunities, on-the-job training and retention strategies for youth, with consideration of youth from undocumented families.

Increasing economic opportunities for adults who face barriers to employment and creating safe workplace environments is critical to healing from community trauma and preventing violence. Workforce development and employment opportunities help residents gain access to good jobs with living wages and sets the community on a path toward opportunity. Research points to diminished economic opportunities and high unemployment rates as a risk factor for multiple forms of violence including community violence, intimate partner violence and sexual violence. Twenty-one percent of those surveyed in the 2016 City of Milwaukee Public Safety survey believe unemployment leads to violent behavior and crime in Milwaukee. Several key stakeholders also stated that violence in the city stems from the lack of jobs and economic opportunities, specifically for those previously incarcerated and communities of color.

Recommended Strategies

1. Improve organizational policies and practices to support safe and inclusive work environments

2. Connect adults to employment opportunities with a living wage and remove accessibility barriers

3. Strengthen economic supports for women and families

4. Strengthen financial literacy skills

5. Foster local entrepreneurship

  1. Establish and incentivize proactive policies that reduce practices of discrimination and harassment based on race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, religion, or national origin.
  2. Build on, tailor, and expand workforce and employment development efforts to link job seekers in greatest need to open positions.
  3. Create incentives and improve employer readiness to hire and retain those facing accessibility barriers (e.g. people returning from incarceration) and remove barriers for jobs.
  4. Adopt local policies to support living wages and local hiring.
  5. Adopt local policies to support paid sick, paternity, and maternity leave.
  6. Increase opportunities for driver’s license recovery and eliminate suspensions for non-driving violations, including truancy.
  7. Support adequate workplace policies and access to and availability of affordable, quality child care.
  8. Integrate financial education with employment services to improve economic opportunities for low-to- moderate income communities.
  9. Create opportunities for local entrepreneurship and economic development, including co-op’s.

The Blueprint aims to build safe and strong neighborhoods by concentrating efforts to reduce deterioration and create protective community environments for residents and youth. Insufficient investment in the community contributes to community trauma and violence. In addition, research shows poor neighborhood support and lack of community cohesion are risk factors for multiple forms of violence. Violence thrives in areas where residents are disconnected from each other and public institutions. Investment in neighborhood infrastructure projects (roads, buildings, parks, transportation and public services) that address blight and deterioration is an essential component in preventing violence and has been shown to foster community connectedness and encourage positive social interaction and trust. This goal leverages existing work and initiatives to improve the social-cultural, physical/built and economic environments of disinvested neighborhoods in Milwaukee and encourage resident involvement, advocacy and leadership in neighborhood improvement and violence reduction. This goal area includes up front, community-level strategies that will create the conditions for promoting safe and thriving neighborhoods.

Recommended Strategies

1. Create safe and accessible community spaces

  1. Organize community events in neighborhoods most impacted by violence.
  2. Create safe transportation routes.
  3. Strengthen current Community Schools and bring to scale best practices to expand the Community Schools Model to additional schools.
  4. Promote neighborhood revitalization and address physical blight and nuisance properties in prioritized neighborhoods.
  5. Increase investments to parks and playground infrastructure, equipment and landscaping in priority neighborhoods to ensure playgrounds are safe and accessible for all.
  6. Decrease the sale of harmful products through monitoring and restrictions, and reduce the number of establishments with liquor and tobacco licenses in priority neighborhoods.

2. Increase economic development and access to economic opportunity in priority neighborhoods

  1. Engage businesses in violence prevention efforts, including expanding partnerships with business improvement districts and other community-level efforts that increase economic growth and sustainability.
  2. Connect transportation/transit to economic development so that people in the city can access jobs throughout the region.

3. Improve government-community relationships

  1. Provide increased opportunities for government-community partnerships and trust-building.
  2. Increase knowledge, awareness, and power provided through civic engagement among residents in priority neighborhoods.
  3. Sustain and expand existing community oriented and problem solving policing efforts, with the goal of building and strengthening relationships, trust and legitimacy throughout the community.

4. Build resident leadership and collective action

  1. Expand efforts to build neighborhood/resident organizing and advocacy capacity.
  2. Build capacity for residents to lead organizations to address the needs of their neighborhoods.

5. Connect residents to resources to improve their quality of life

  1. Invest in and promote programs to increase safe and affordable housing in priority neighborhoods.
  2. Connect residents in priority neighborhoods to community resources to meet basic needs such as food, housing, medical and other services/resources.

Coordination is critical to the success of comprehensive violence prevention efforts. The responsibility for addressing violence and the various underlying risk and resilience factors must involve multiple sectors, organizations, and areas of expertise. Collaboration across these sectors is essential to preventing violence. The Blueprint calls for leveraging, tracking and supporting investments relevant to the goals outlined within this plan. This includes tracking outcomes both by aggregating the activities and investments of diverse sectors in one coherent approach, and by leveraging efforts of different sectors so that they build on one another to achieve broader outcomes than could be accomplished by any single sector alone. Effective implementation and long-term sustainability of the evidence-based strategies included in this Blueprint will require critical infrastructure supports for coordination, collaboration and staffing, community engagement, communication, resources, evaluation, evaluation training and capacity building. This goal provides strategies to build the infrastructure necessary to successfully implement the Blueprint and achieve desired outcomes.

Recommended Strategies

1. Build capacity for systems change and increased collaboration across organizations and sectors

  1. Establish and sustain a Milwaukee Violence Prevention Council with strong community representation to provide leadership, coordination, and oversight to the implementation of the Blueprint for Peace.
  2. Expand and align community building processes and tools to build trust with community members and among organizational partners.
  3. Offer ongoing opportunities for training and capacity-building for organizational and individual partners to better understand best practices for preventing violence.
  4. Build capacity and collaboration across priority neighborhoods in citywide implementation.
  5. Identify and collaborate on strategies for systemic change in order to advocate for policy and practice changes relevant to violence prevention

2. Apply trauma-informed, racial equity, and implicit bias reduction lenses across sectors

  1. Adopt a trauma-informed approach to violence prevention across sectors, institutions and partners that acknowledges trauma and encourages trauma-sensitive approaches to violence.
  2. Pursue and implement policies and practices that are trauma and healing-informed and reduce elements of bias across government departments and other sectors, including education and youth- serving organizations.

3. Create a mechanism for sustainable violence prevention funding

  1. Align funding to support strategies within the Blueprint for preventing violence in prioritized neighborhoods with a particular emphasis on incentivizing collaboration.

4. Develop and implement an effective communications strategy

  1. Ensure effective internal and external communication among.
  2. Develop and implement branded and culturally tailored communications campaigns to promote norms around community safety, including effectively engaging the media to reduce biased reporting, framing violence as preventable and highlighting solutions for Milwaukee.

5. Increase evaluation capacity and accountability

  1. Establish coordinated data sharing for tracking programs, participation, and impact across multiple sectors.
  2. Utilize a results-based framework for evaluating the impact of the Blueprint, including establishing a system to track key indicators and other evaluation needs.