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Gov. Pritzker Expands the Reimagine Public Safety Act to Further Interrupt Gun Violence

Press Release - Friday, December 10, 2021

CHICAGO -Building on efforts to develop holistic solutions and reduce gun violence across the state, today Governor JB Pritzker signed a trailer bill to the Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA), which established the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP). The office continues to take a targeted approach to violence prevention in communities with the highest rates of violence, while providing resources for violence intervention programs.

Through a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) released by the Illinois Department of Human Services (IDHS), Illinois will expand upon the state's evidence-based violence prevention services, by identifying community-based organizations to serve as advisors for the initiative. The grants will assist the organizations as they pursue reducing gun violence through youth development programs and the provision of trauma-based services. In the coming weeks, additional funding opportunity notices will be released to identify community partners across the state.

Community organizations looking to apply for state funding, should access the RPSA Violence Prevention Training, Technical Assistance and Support NOFO here.

"The Reimagine Public Safety Act advances our commitment to make an unprecedented investment in public safety, utilize data to inform where help is most needed, address both immediate needs and systematic change to reduce gun violence, and most importantly, reach even more communities that have historically been left to fend for themselves," said Governor JB Pritzker. "I thank Senator Peters and Representative Slaughter and leaders in the General Assembly, without whom this initiative would not be possible. No law can change the past or give back a life. But what we can do, we must do - and thanks to the Reimagine Public Safety plan, we are putting an unprecedented amount of dollars on the ground to save lives."

The legislation clarifies guidelines to implement the RPSA and gives both IDHS and the OFVP greater flexibility in their grant-making authority. To reach communities with higher concentrations of violence, the bill diversifies the neighborhoods where community-based organizations are eligible for grants.

"Community-based organizations make an incredible impact in our citywide violence reduction efforts," said Chicago Mayor Lori E. Lightfoot. "Creating partnerships across all levels of government with our community stakeholders must continue in order to holistically and effectively prevent and reduce crime. I'm grateful to our State partners for their leadership on this issue and their investment in our communities."

"We can no longer rely on the same approach if we want to solve the escalating problem of violence caused by failed policies and decades of disinvestment," said Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton. "We must be proactive, and we must provide resources for equitable violence prevention. The Reimagine Public Safety Act does just that."

"I'm so pleased to see Governor Pritzker sign this legislation into law to help address this public health crisis. This law ensures a strong plan to confront the epidemic of gun-related violence, and it also allows communities across Illinois to be a part of the solution. I'm so thankful for the relentless work of so many advocates and to our legislative leaders who have made reducing gun violence a priority in Illinois," said Grace B. Hou, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services.

In November, the Governor declared gun violence a public health crisis, launching a comprehensive approach to reducing gun violence. The administration pledged a $250 million state investment over the next three years to implement the plan in partnership with community-based organizations. The RPSA builds upon this initiative by requiring the state to pursue a data-driven approach to high-risk youth intervention programs and technical assistance and training. This will be administered by IDHS, in partnership with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority (ICJIA) and the Firearm Violence Research Group.

"As Illinois fights the epidemic of gun violence, ICJIA and DHS have aligned the Reimagine Public Safety Act with the Statewide Violence Prevention Plan for a coordinated strategy to reduce gun violence, address mental health and trauma in communities, and leverage resources across city, county, and state. The Statewide Violence Prevention Plan released this Fall supports the administration's goals of breaking the cycles of violence caused by years of failed criminal justice policies and economic disinvestment in Black and Brown communities," said Acting ICJIA Executive Director Delrice Adams. "Developed in collaboration with over 130 community violence prevention stakeholders and seven state agencies, the plan serves as a framework for all state violence prevention funding creating more resilient, safe, and thriving communities across Illinois."

The OFVP will coordinate with the ICJIA, the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH), the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services (HFS), and other relevant state agencies to establish a public health approach to reducing gun violence. The OFVP is led by Chris Patterson, who was appointed by Governor Pritzker as Assistant Secretary for Violence Prevention at IDHS.

"As a long-time advocate leading successful, grassroots firearm violence prevention efforts and a personal victim of firearm violence, today marks a new beginning for hard hit communities across the state.  We want to see every neighborhood live safer.  We are committed to carrying out the Governor's vision to make Illinois a safe place for every resident," said Chris Patterson, Assistant Secretary for Violence Prevention at IDHS.

To develop recommendations for reducing gun violence, the OFVP is required to identify and work with violence prevention conveners in Chicago neighborhoods with the highest rates of violence. In areas outside of Chicago, the OFVP will form community advisory groups to advise on concrete steps to lower firearm injuries and deaths.

"I'm incredibly proud of the work that went into creating this comprehensive, community-based plan to address and prevent violence across our state," said House Speaker Emanuel "Chris" Welch (D-Westchester). "Addressing the root cause of violence requires investment of both time and money, and this plan allows us to properly equip on-the-ground organizations who know their communities best. This is an excellent first step in our violence prevention efforts and this will remain a top priority for us moving forward."

"The recent rise in gun violence will not be addressed until we change the policies that disproportionately have a negative impact on Black and Latinx communities," said State Senator Robert Peters (D-Chicago). "Soon, we will be able to work hand-in-hand with affected communities, intervening with at-risk youth, supporting survivors, and working from the bottom-up rather than the top-down. People in Illinois deserve public safety for all, not theater."

"This legislation positions us to support good law enforcement with solid resources and the neighborhood organizations that are stepping forward to keep kids safe and de-escalate violent environments," said State Representative Justin Slaughter (D-Chicago). "The Reimagine Public Safety Act will accomplish this with real resources and action. Today marks another step into making every single neighborhood safer in Illinois."

"I was proud to be a chief co-sponsor of the Re-Imagine Safety Act because our communities are demanding bold action on gun violence. Our state has become a national leader on justice reform so we must also lead in investing resources to address the root causes of crime and violence in our communities," said Assistant Majority Leader Delia Ramirez (D-Chicago). This legislation will help lead that work with proven solutions. Our children deserve safe neighborhoods to live and thrive in and this is a strong step towards building that future for all Illinoisans."

"This measure is a bold and proactive response," said State Senator Elgie R. Sims, Jr. (D-Chicago). "When we talk about reimagining public safety, we are talking about ensuring communities, especially historically marginalized communities, the resources to address critical social problems. Many people think of a police response when they hear public safety but its more than that. This funding will help to better develop healthy partnerships between community members and advocates, police, government officials, and social service providers to critically tackle the violence that exists within our communities."

"I am proud to be part of the movement in support of gun violence prevention under the Reimagine Public Safety Act," said State Senator Jacqueline Y. Collins (D-Chicago). "Gun violence is a public health crisis that disproportionately impacts communities of color but with data-driven initiatives we can correct the pre-existing causes."

"Gun Violence, which is a form of Violence, is truly a public health crisis, and our solutions in dealing with gun violence will have to be continually adaptive for us to overcome the hurdles that gun violence presents to our communities," said state Representative Camille Y. Lilly. "Our understanding of the who's, the what's and the why's that lead to particular courses of action will have to be comprehensive and focused on not only reducing but eliminating the threat of gun violence in communities across the state especially at risk communities."

"Governor JB Pritzker's commitment to public safety is extremely important and needed here in Bronzeville and the surrounding communities - our citizens need to know we are tackling this crisis," said State Representative Lamont Robinson (D-Chicago).

"As a lifelong resident of the Southwest Side of Chicago, I have witnessed firsthand the effects gun violence has on our neighborhoods, but also how community organizations are responding to this public health crisis on the ground," said State Representative. Edgar Gonzalez Jr. (D-Chicago). "Through the Reimagine Public Safety Act, we're directing resources to the communities that need it the most to begin reversing years of neglect and disinvestment."

The epidemic of gun violence is a public health crisis that is rising nationally, and the Governor has taken action to make communities safer, particularly with significant increases in funding for violence prevention programs. The resources for the RPSA draw from both federal and state funding, including $50 million for the current state fiscal year. The Pritzker administration will continue to work with members of the General Assembly to secure an additional $100 million in appropriations in the budgets for fiscal years 2023 and 2024.

Since taking office, the Governor has more than doubled violence prevention funding, with the state now appropriating $507 million for violence prevention, diversion, and youth employment programs in FY 22, including $125 million in funds made available from the American Rescue Plan Act.

For more information about Illinois' Violence Prevention Plan, visit ICJIA's website.

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