COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) — The Columbus Board of Health hosted a community forum about Perceptions on Violence Prevention.
The forum was an opportunity for community members, city leaders, and experts from other cities dealing with gun violence to come together, learn about data, what programs Columbus is implementing to stop gun violence, and ways the city and community can elevate their responses to this issue.
In February of 2021, Mayor Andrew Ginther called gun violence in the city of Columbus a public health crisis which in turn has allowed the issue to be approached in a public health manner.
Health Commissioner Dr. Mysheika Roberts explained one factor that makes a difference.
“The public health approach is to use data to inform decision making to use programming and interventions that can be measured and show effectiveness and to have a collaborative effort,” she said.
Collaboration was a focus of the community forum, which included speakers like Deputy Commissioner of Behavioral Health for Chicago’s Department of Health Matt Richards as well as Dr. Chenelle Jones from Franklin University.
Richards talked about lessons learned from Chicago’s public health approach to community safety while Jones spoke about what works and what does not work when approaching gun violence from a public health standpoint, both providing tools for Columbus to use in its approach to the issue.
“Learning lessons from other places around the country, what’s worked, what hasn’t worked, where we can put more resources,” Ginther said. “And new approaches into dealing with an issue that’s affecting cities across the country.”
Personal stories were also shared by those who have experienced gun violence and community leaders like Malik Moore, a greater Hilltop area commissioner who spoke about his brother being shot when he was a teenager.
Section Chief of Neighborhood Social Services at Columbus Public Health Marian Stuckey shared anti-violence programs in the Columbus community right now like Locks Save Lives, which provides free gun safes and lock boxes in hopes of keeping guns from getting into the wrong hands.
Stuckey spoke about trauma response programs for those who have experienced gun violence themselves as well as in communities.
Ginther said gun violence isn’t an issue we can police ourselves out of and Roberts echoed this sentiment by saying instead it will take a collaborative and multipronged approach.