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Madison Democrat pitches statewide Office of Violence Prevention

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(The Center Square) – There is a plan at the Wisconsin Capitol to create a new statewide Office of Violence Prevention.

Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, wants to set-up the new office in the state’s Department of Health Services.

“Violence is a public health issue, one that has haunted our communities for years with senseless tragedy. Too frequently, the lives of our neighbors are claimed or permanently altered by a preventable act of violence. In order to create and sustain safe communities where all can grow and thrive, we must stop interpersonal violence at its source,” Stubbs said in a statement.

The Republican-controlled legislature has tried to address the spike in violence in Wisconsin by adding new punishments for reckless driving and some gun charges. Many of those plans, however, have been vetoed by Gov. Evers.

Milwaukee and Madison are both seeing increases in crime, including violent crime. Milwaukee set records for homicides in 2020, 2021 and 2022. Police in Madison say crime stats are down so far this year, but the city’s police chief says many people continue to not feel safe.

There are Offices of Violence Prevention in both the city of Milwaukee and in Dane County. Though Milwaukee is moving its OVP out of the city’s health department in the new year.

“By creating the [statewide] Office of Violence Prevention in the Department of Health Services, we seek to address the myriad of violent crimes claiming and affecting lives in our communities,” Stubbs said. “The office will address the systemic root causes of violence such as gun violence, domestic abuse, and child mistreatment in order to develop proactive solutions to these crimes. It will also issue grants to fund efforts in the community that have been proven to reduce violence. By collaborating with community leaders and organizations that are already working to address these public health and safety issues, we will develop a strong network of support to protect all those who call Wisconsin home.”

Stubbs did not say if she has any support from Republican lawmakers, or even the governor. But she pressed lawmakers to take-up her proposal as quickly as possible.

“We cannot continue addressing violence on an individual case-by-case basis—we must collectively address the root causes of patterns of violence in Wisconsin. We all must work together if we are to envision a Wisconsin free of bloodshed and abuse, as well as to heal from the scars previous violence has inflicted on our communities,” Stubbs added.

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