Last Thursday, alders from Madison’s north side, local community leaders and Madison police officers hosted a meeting addressing gun violence and calling for more community-based solutions.
District 18 alder, Charles Myadze, organized the meeting after a shooting that took place at a north side gas station on Sept. 30, leaving two people injured.
In 2020, there were 250 shootings in Madison, more than in 2018 and 2019 combined, according to the Madison Police Department. Although there have been fewer shootings in 2021, Madison community members say gun violence is still too common.
“We have a critical public safety and social justice threat, and we need to do everything in our power to address it as soon as possible,” said Nicholas Loumas, the COO of Focused Interruption Coalition.
Police Chief Shon Barnes attended the Thursday meeting and said that additional measures outside of law enforcement are required to meaningfully address the problem, calling for help from local community members.
"We cannot arrest ourselves out of the problem of gun violence and violence in our city,” Barnes told wkow. “Yes, we will hold those accountable who think it's okay to pick up a gun, but we need your help as a community. We need your support as a community.”
Myadze provided a similar statement, saying that MPD plays an important role in combating gun violence in Madison but the community can make changes without relying on officers.
"We definitely got to be in a space and a capacity to start doing things as a community and helping one another and finding other initiatives to get things done as a community," Myadze said during the meeting. "MPD is part of our community. We call them for everything, but we do not need them for everything. There's things we can do on our own."
Several meeting attendees claimed that Madison’s operating budget will heavily influence the city’s capability of addressing gun violence in the future.
Focused Interruption, a local community organization founded in 2016 proposed that Dane County allocate $1.2 million for a Gun Violence Reduction Strategy, similar to cities such as Boston and Oakland, Calif.
The strategy would identify individuals at high risk of gun violence, offer them services and use law enforcement as a last resort, Focused Interruption founder and CEO Anthony Cooper Sr. told madison.com.
A public hearing on the city budget bill is scheduled for Nov. 9 where the Common Council could approve funding for Focused Interruption’s proposed program.