Obama Visit to Minneapolis Highlights What Cities Can Do to Reduce Violence
In our latest Huffington Post blog, we noted that Minneapolis was the perfect place for President Obama to bring his campaign to reduce gun violence. City and community leaders there have organized a remarkably effective effort to prevent youth violence, lowering the number of shootings and homicides of young people. His visit shined a light on what leaders can do when they bring everyone together to create a comprehensive plan—and then go out and implement it. It also highlighted the need for Congressional action to enact the White House plan, which is aimed chiefly at preventing mass shootings.
Minneapolis was one of the first members of UNITY, a network of cities around the country that are working to prevent violence affecting youth. We at Prevention Institute, with funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, have been honored to organize this network as a place where cities can learn from each other. In October, we held the annual UNITY meeting in Minneapolis. Representatives of 22 cities came together to hear about the city’s work and to share ideas and experiences.
The good work being done by Minneapolis and other cities isn’t magic or easy. But it is doable. It is grounded in the idea that violence is a public health problem that can’t be solved by locking people up. What’s required is an approach that brings city agencies and community groups together to create a plan and coordinate a broad array of services. In Minneapolis, these efforts have borne fruit. The number of people under 18 arrested for, or suspected of, violent crime dropped 61 percent between 2006 and 2010. Killings of people 24 and younger fell 76 percent from 2006 to 2009.
President Obama’s proposals to reduce gun violence enjoy public support and are worthy of support in Congress as well. We also need to go a step further by helping cities take the kinds of steps Minneapolis and others are taking. The experience in Minneapolis and a growing number of cities around the country shows that violence is preventable. Cities need stable resources for strategic planning, implementation, and coordination, as well as for cops, recreation centers, social workers and job training. It’s an investment in the future for all of us.