COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — A national anti- violence network made up of cities across the country, is now preparing to help Columbus’ new Office of Violence Prevention.
“They’ll have access to us in terms of thinking through the shape of the office,” David Muhammad, Executive Director of the National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform said.
The California-based organization oversees a network of more than three dozen cities that operate anti-violence offices across the country.
“We advice all members to be clear of what goals you are trying to achieve,” Muhammad said. His office has already reached out to Columbus about being a part of the network.
Indianapolis is among the 38 cities that are connected to the National Offices of Violence Prevention network. The city opened its Office of Violence Reduction in 2018 as part of a strategy to reduce gun violence.
“Being able to bounce ideas throughout the nation is very helpful,” Tony Lopez with the Indianapolis office of Violence Reduction said.
Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther announced last week the city would be opening its Office of Violence Prevention in the coming weeks and tapped In-House Counsel Rena Shak to head the office.
A $1.5 M budget has been given to the Office of Violence Prevention for it’s first year.
Shak says one of the first priorities will be to hold town hall meetings around Columbus to discuss current gun violence initiatives that are part of the city’s comprehensive safety program.
Ginther says the office will evaluate current anti-violence programs being run by the city to determine whether they should be expanded or replaced by more current crime prevention strategies.
Muhammad tells ABC 6/FOX 28 that being a part of the network will allow Columbus’ staff to participate and brainstorm with other network members to keep streets safe.
“They‘ll get access to their peers, and many of these offices have learned a lot” he said.