DC Mayor Muriel Bowser announced Wednesday that the city has recognized its ongoing gun violence as “a public health crisis” in a new order, and that an emergency response center has been created to address the problem.
“Too many lives have been taken, too many families have been traumatized, and too many neighborhoods have been left broken. With Building Blocks DC, we are committing to reversing these trends, saving lives, and better supporting our residents and communities most impacted by gun violence,” Bowser said, noting that the issue requires a whole-government approach.
A total of $15 million will be invested into the Building Blocks DC program initially. There will also be additional funding in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
The Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center (EOC), which has been launched as part of the program, is in Ward 8. The center is “a first-of-its-kind in the nation to deploy a public health approach to gun violence prevention,” according to the Mayor’s Office.
Building Blocks DC is planning to focus its efforts on those at the highest risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of gun violence, especially individuals who:
- Have been repeatedly arrested for gun-related offenses
- Are under active supervision by CSOSA or DYRS
- Have been directly impacted by gun violence
- Have experienced the ripple effects of gun violence
The District recorded 198 homicides in 2020, which is a 15-year high. As of February 18, 26 homicides have been reported this year, up 18 percent from the same period of 2020, when 22 incidents occurred, according to data released by the Metropolitan Police Department (MPD).
In recent weeks, Ward 8 Councilmember Trayon White called on the District to declare a state of emergency in response to the gun violence around the city.