NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC - Today, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved a $39.6 million community violence action plan and associated budget amendments to fund the action plan, utilizing multiple funding sources of the county.
"I am really pleased that we have a purposeful, well researched and well-thought-out plan with a goal of making an actual impact on community violence," said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. "Our community, our kids, and our families deserve to have equitable and easy access to resources, to live in a home where they feel safe, and to have the tools to be able to succeed. This plan is multi-pronged, it looks at specific areas of our community to make direct investments, and it offers opportunities for students and families who need it most."
The county's plan was informed by community stakeholder meetings, student focus groups, input from the public through virtual meetings, a survey and informal communications, conversations with school personnel, administration, and law enforcement, as well as research into evidence-based programs, learning about community work already underway, and hearing from subject-matter experts.
The revenue sources approved in the plan will come from the county's general fund balance and interest from the county's revenue stabilization fund, as well as American Rescue Plan Act funding. Revenue sources will continue to be evaluated yearly as part of the county's budget process.
A detailed overview of the action plan and associated costs can be viewed and a summary of the specific initiatives are outlined:
- Increase the capacity of the Sheriff's Office evidence-based Elements program to alleviate the current waitlist for children in need of the service and allow for additional children to be served.
- Expand Community Justice Services' evidence-based Too Good For Violence program into high schools to help address social and emotional needs of students.
- Establish a Community Care Coordination unit of the county, based on the Bull City United, community health, and Cure Violence models, that would incorporate trusted outreach workers and mediators that work within neighborhoods and focus on evidence-based violence interruption models and practices. Funding will also be utilized to provide workspace for the new unit at 320 Chestnut Street.
- Develop community resource coordination within seven schools through one or more established nonprofits, where students and families can work with a coordinator to have one entry point to access a variety of services that may be needed.
- Add four new school resource officers (SRO) at elementary schools in the designated impact zone that do not already have a dedicated SRO.
- Create a 24-hour community call center for the public to report perceived threats, both in and out of school, with capacity to research and respond to threats and also monitor social media for potential threats of violence.
- Provide threat assessment training to all school resource and parks resource officers for increased awareness and response to a variety of school violence threats.
- Fund the design of a new boarding school operated by Leading Into New Communities (LINC) to provide stability, education opportunities, and trade preparation and training for youth and young adults, ages 16 to 21, who have previous criminal justice involvement, gang involvement, are on supervision, and/or those who have committed crimes.
- Design and build a grocery story on the Northside of downtown Wilmington, which is designated as a food desert, that would provide neighbors with a nearby and convenient location to access fresh food. The store would be built on donated land and operated by a current grocery store operator. This work will be done in collaboration with the Northside Food Co-op.
The county will continue to provide updates and information about this plan at NHCgov.com/schoolsafety.