COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — One of the new initiatives aimed at curbing violence in Columbus is Franklin County’s Family Stabilization Unit. The unit has been in the works for some time now but Franklin County Commissioner Kevin Boyce formally announced it during a city press conference addressing recent violence.
The two specialists leading the unit are Christopher Hunnicutt and Walter Dillard. Their team will be taking what they say is a new approach to helping families and in turn reducing crime.
“To say you can eliminate crime from society probably would be a reach. Probably not feasible, but we’re going to try our hardest,” said Dillard.
Officials say the unit will be looking at social determinants of health and racial equity. They’ll start by focusing on boys and young men of color in the justice system for lower level offenses, ideally reaching them before they get involved in more serious crime.
“It’s really imperative for us that we get to those young people as soon as possible while still in truancy before it can grow into anything more significant,” said Hunicutt.
The unit plans to offer wrap-around services. They’re working with other agencies with the hopes to streamline the process of getting families the resources they need. Once they reach an individual who may be involved in the justice system, they plan to connect with them and help other family members as well.
“We are intentional about preventing some of the barriers that these families end up facing and especially those young people, so it’s imperative we’re taking a multi-generational approach,” said Hunnicutt. “If you can affect positive change for the parents and you can do that for these young people, then that becomes the standard those young people live by and then they influence their children and that just kind of becomes the way of life for that family.”
Years ago, Dillard wanted to be a detective but says with what he’s doing now he’s looking at crime in a different way.
“What we have the unique opportunity to do here is actually go in and do things before crime can actually happen,” he said.
The Family Stabilization Unit is a two year pilot program they plan to have in action by October.