Upper Darby is seeing an increase in gun violence and the trauma that comes with it, Bernhardt said. He welcomed a new data-driven approach and a focus on education to replace old ways of doing things.
“One of the things I look forward to with our PAL [Police Athletic League] program is – and it’s not a knock on basketball, or soccer or football – but I want it to be more than that. I want it to be video games, or I want to help them get their GED or help them get their driver’s license, or help them get a job after school or put them in some type of organization or group that interests them and lead them to that,” Bernhardt said.
In terms of newer ideas, Upper Darby might look elsewhere for solutions to replicate. Advance Peace is one example officials are keeping an eye on. Rongione believes the program, in which formerly incarcerated people provide counseling and mentorship to at-risk individuals, has seen success in other places.
Rongione wants to meet people where they are to break the cycle of violence.
“There’s just a certain credibility that comes from someone in that position. So a program like that is the kind of innovative strategy that we want to have money set aside for,” he said.
Before Upper Darby decides exactly how money for gun violence prevention will be allocated, Keffer and Rongione stressed, it is important to conduct risk and needs assessments. These would be run by public health experts who have a background in the study of violence. The goal, Rongione said, would be to look at the systemic drivers of violence in the township and understand who the at-risk populations are.
“It’s more than any individual who takes the wrong path or makes the wrong choice. It’s about how do we bring in people to help us understand the root causes and change the community conditions that give rise to violent incidents? said Rongione.
In addition to Mayor Keffer’s proposal to use $1 million in federal funding to address gun violence, the plan also includes an additional $750,000 for nonprofits addressing mental health and mental health issues. roaming.
Since this is the first of two ARPA awards, Keffer said she hopes the city council approves her proposal.
“We look forward to continuing the conversation with the council, with the community, and seeing what else we can do with the next $20 million,” Keffer said.
The whole plan will be put to a vote at the February 2 board meeting.