School Safety & Community Violence

New Hanover County has developed an actionable plan to invest in community and resource building, with a focus on equity and preventing violence. The county will continue to engage in community-wide conversations as the plan is implemented, working closely with community partners, advocates, and families who are deeply involved in our neighborhoods and the lives of youth.

New Hanover County is investing in the community in numerous ways to provide equitable resources for residents, increase stability for families, and give children and adults strong foundations to thrive.

Current Initiatives and Investments:

  • The county is currently developing a department called Port City United (PCU) that will have three main components: a unit being built from an evidence-based Cure Violence Global model, that will include trusted outreach workers and violence interrupters working within neighborhoods to intervene and prevent violence; PCU Connect, a 24-7, locally manned contact center where community members can connect with resources and anonymously report violence, threats or other concerns not addressed through 911 or mental health hotlines; and the nonprofit partnerships that will bring community resource coordinators into schools to help students and families receive equitable and easy access to services.
  • The Sheriff’s Office evidence-based Elements Program is increasing its capacity to alleviate the current waitlist for children in need of the service and allow for additional children to be served.
  • The county’s Community Justice Services’ evidence-based Too Good For Violence Program is expanding into high schools to help address social and emotional needs of students.
  • The county is actively partnering with the Northside Food Co-op and will design and build a grocery story on the Northside of downtown Wilmington, which is designated as a food desert, that will provide neighbors with a nearby and convenient location to access fresh food and also create job opportunities. Access to food is necessary for a person’s health and overall wellbeing, so partnering with the Northside Food Co-op to operate the grocery store once it is built will help ensure food security and bring a valuable and needed resource to the community. Over the next month, the county hopes to confirm and finalize the site location for the store, through a land donation from the City of Wilmington, and begin working to engage a consultant and design team who will assist with the project.  
  • The county is adding four new school resource officers (SRO) at Snipes Academy of Arts and Design, Forest Hills Global Elementary, Rachel Freeman School of Engineering, and International School at Gregory (downtown elementary schools that do not already have a dedicated SRO).
  • All school resource and parks resource officers are receiving threat assessment training for increased awareness and response to a variety of school violence threats.

Upcoming Initiatives and Investments:

  • The county will fund the design of a new boarding school operated by Leading Into New Communities (LINC) to provide stability, education opportunities (high school diploma or GED), 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. The county, in its overall plan, will also help support LINC with some of the boarding school’s capital and operating expenses over the coming years.
  • Starting in the 2022-2023 school year, the county-funded Pre-K program with expand with six additional Pre-K classes within New Hanover County Schools. This will provide 90 more children each year with the opportunity to begin their educational journeys sooner, setting them up for life-long success academically, socially, and emotionally. This funding is in addition to the six Pre-K classes already funded by the county, for a total of 12 classes.
  • For older students and adults, starting in the fall of 2023, the county will work with Cape Fear Community College to help eliminate barriers that might have previously kept someone from attending. This includes covering the cost of attendance or making sure needs like transportation and childcare are met so that individuals can further their education or work to hone skills in a specific trade. Additional information on how to qualify will be shared once the support program is finalized.
  • In addition to the county’s ongoing non-county agency funding commitment as part of the yearly budget, an additional $1.2 million will be allocated to nonprofits that have evidence-based programs to help combat violence and provide wrap-around services to individuals and families. The funding is intended for capacity building so the nonprofits can increase their services in the community and will begin in Fiscal Year 2023. Additional information will be shared about the nonprofit criteria and expected outcomes when the application process is finalized.
  • In Fiscal Year 23, an additional 14 School Resource Officers through the Sheriff’s Office will be funded by the county to ensure all schools have the presence of an SRO who can then develop trusted relationships with students. In addition, the county will invest in an opportunity to increase the presence of adults on school buses, to develop additional relationships and have another continuous, trusted presence to and from school.

This is a multi-year plan that will continue to evolve as the community and needs change. The overarching goal is to connect individuals and families with the resources they need, build trusted relationships throughout the community, and show true care to every person.

April 21 Updates

Port City United officially announced partnerships with three longstanding nonprofits in the community – Communities In Schools of Cape Fear, Voyage, and Leading Into New Communities (LINC). These organizations will bring community resource coordinators into schools to connect students and families to resources based on their needs. Coordinators will work with parents and school personnel, provide intensive case management and ensure the educational, nutritional, health and social needs of students are being met. Learn more about this partnership here.


February 1 Update

New Hanover County officially announced the creation of Port City United, a new county department formed to facilitate, coordinate, and implement community violence and intervention initiatives. The department will include an outreach unit, a community call center, and build nonprofit partnerships to bring resource coordinators into county schools. Learn more about the department and job opportunities available here.


January 24 Update

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. A detailed overview of the action plan, associated costs and a summary of the specific initiatives can be viewed here.

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.


November 30 Update:

The New Hanover County Board of Commissioners and New Hanover County Board of Education held a joint meeting on November 30 and part of the discussion was focused on community and school safety. The meeting video can be viewed here.

At the meeting, board members were also provided with an overview of the results of a recent public input survey that solicited feedback on community and school safety. An overview of the survey results can be found here 


November 15 Update:

At the November 15, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager Chris Coudriet updated the board on the progress of community violence & school safety plans. A budget amendment is planned for the December 20 board meeting that will outline initial priorities & funding mechanisms to begin people-first investments. Watch this update to the board here.


October 18 Update:

At the October 18, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager Chris Coudriet provided an update to the board on the framework of investments and strategies over the next three years to help address structural violence and direct violence in the community, and improve school safety. Additional details of this plan, funding information, and program development will take place over the coming weeks and months. An overview of the initial strategies and potential investments can be viewed here.


September 20 Update:

At the September 20, 2021 Board of Commissioners meeting, County Manager Chris Coudriet gave an update on the county’s progress to support school safety & community violence prevention initiatives. Community engagement work has begun to identify problems and possible solutions, with more opportunities for public forums & collaboration to come. Watch this update to the board here.


In an effort to expand the ongoing conversation about violence in our community and safety within our schools, New Hanover County hosted a pair of digital “Let’s Talk” public forums on November 15 and 17, 2021.

These webinar-style Zoom events featured array of panelists, including local service providers, families, teachers, school administrators, law enforcement officials and more. 

Community participants joined the virtual meeting to listen to the conversation and submit questions for panelists to answer live.

 

Let’s Talk: School Safety Forum

The second virtual public forum, “Let’s Talk: School Safety,” was held on Wednesday, November 17. The panel featured representatives from New Hanover County Schools’ Central Services, school administration and parents. The discussion centered around how issues that start in a community impact the school environment, and how to help ensure safety on school campuses. Attendees then asked questions of the panelists and shared feedback. Click below to watch the second virtual forum.

 

Let’s Talk: Community Violence Forum

The first virtual public forum, “Let’s Talk: Community Violence,” was held on Monday, November 15. The panel featured local law enforcement, community groups and parents as they discussed issues taking place around New Hanover County that are leading to and are a direct result of violence within the community. Attendees then asked questions of the panelists and shared feedback. Click below to watch the first virtual forum.

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