DeKalb considers $1M for community-based violence prevention programs

Faith leaders and community members gather to stop the violence march and prayer outside of the Golden Glide skating rink in Decatur on Thursday, April 28, 2022. An 11-year-old boy was shot at the rink on April 9 and has been in a coma. Thursday, April 28, 2022. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

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Faith leaders and community members gather to stop the violence march and prayer outside of the Golden Glide skating rink in Decatur on Thursday, April 28, 2022. An 11-year-old boy was shot at the rink on April 9 and has been in a coma. Thursday, April 28, 2022. Miguel Martinez/miguel.martinezjimenez@ajc.com

The DeKalb County government appears poised to allocate $1 million toward community-based violence prevention programs.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond briefly referenced the new initiative during his state of the county address last week. A resolution that would make it a reality was presented to the county Board of Commissioners on Tuesday and could be voted on in coming weeks.

The county has in recent years made similar investments in programs that aim to “interrupt” violence before it happens. But the new funding was driven at least in part by the April shooting of an 11-year-old at a local skating rink.

Thurmond called that incident “just the most recent example of senseless violence in our communities.”

“The reality is there are hundreds of nonprofits, churches, community organizations who have been laboring in the vineyard for years, scraping together nickels and dimes sometimes, dollars and quarters, to invest in our young people and to invest in our community,” the CEO said.

The new funding is not aimed at starting a program from scratch, but to “enhance existing strategies and to support those organizations who you know...have been out there doing everything they can,” Thurmond said.

No specific organizations were named Tuesday, with recommendations likely to come from the administration and county commissioners in the near future.

But the resolution envisions money being provided to groups “that educate, support, assist and employ teens and young adults, for the purpose of reducing and combatting homicides and violent crimes” in that population.

“We can’t just deal with the symptoms,” Commissioner Larry Johnson said Tuesday. “We’ve got to get to the root.”

Commissioner Ted Terry, who leads the board committee that deals with public safety, said the county would always be “fighting an uphill battle because guns are everywhere,” but has to do anything it can to prevent violence.

“This is a great start and a good down payment on a really important issue, and a really discouraging one to read about in the news every week,” Terry said.