JACKSON, MI – Violence intervention programming, a requirement for new buildings to have cameras and city council resolutions about domestic violence and cyberbullying make up the first part of Mayor Derek Dobies’ plan to fight gun violence in Jackson.
The four items are on the agenda for the 6:30 p.m. Jackson City Council meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 15.
Only the violence intervention programming – called Cure Violence – has a cost to the city. Dobies is asking for almost $58,000 from the city to fund the project from March 2020 to June 2020. It would cost $153,000 for a full year of the program.
Cure Violence is similar to a program presented to council earlier this year, called Group Violence Intervention. GVI is more of a “top-down” approach with police intervening with people and groups at risk for violence, Dobies said, while the Cure Violence plan calls for hiring five part-time street intervenors.
This doesn’t mean the city won’t consider GVI again later, Dobies said.
The intervention team would do survey work to understand what’s driving violence and identify at-risk people and groups, Dobies said. It would then work to connect these people with needs like housing, jobs and social services.
“It’s treating violence as if it were a disease,” Dobies said. “(We want to) slow the pipeline of young kids that are picking up weapons and seeing it as a good tool to communicate in our neighborhoods.”
The camera ordinance would have no cost to the city, and require all new buildings with a certificate of occupancy after April 1, 2020 to install and maintain exterior cameras. The ordinance applies to commercial buildings, mixed-used buildings and residential buildings with six or more units.
The same ordinance failed 4-3 in 2017, with current council members Freddie Dancy, Arlene Robinson and Craig Pappin among the no votes.
Dobies said he hopes to eventually require cameras on all buildings in violence hot spots around the city.
Since elected mayor, Dobies has talked about prioritizing combating crime. He was near an incident last Sunday, when there were shots fired around 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 6 on Second Street, while Dobies was going door to door to campaign for mayor.
Dobies said he was about 10 houses north of where the incident occurred and heard about 20 shots fired, a pause and then five more shots. A vehicle sped past him and Dobies reported the incident to police.
The Jackson Police Department confirms the incident, although only shell casings were found in the street. Multiple witnesses described a dark-colored SUV possibly involved, said Director of Police and Fire Services Elmer Hitt said in an email.
Dobies helped police find the shell casings and said the incident makes the issues he’s fighting “pretty real.”
Other components on Tuesday’s agenda include resolutions to declare October “Domestic Violence Prevention Month” and “Cyberbullying Prevention Month” in Jackson, and advocates for further training and education in both areas.
Dobies’ violence plan also includes an ordinance regarding the illegal transport of weapons and a pre-apprenticeship program to train youth in skilled trades. Neither item will be ready to discuss for the council on Tuesday, Dobies said.
Two meetings remain before the Nov. 5 election, in which Dobies and 3rd Ward Councilman Jeromy Alexander will face off for mayor.