Gov. J.B. Pritzker on Monday declared gun violence in Illinois a public health crisis and said the state is investing $250 million to implement a public safety plan.
Joined by legislators, stakeholders, and community leaders, Pritzker made the announcement during a press conference at Breakthrough Urban Ministries FamilyPlex in Chicago.
He said the state’s $250 million investment over the next three years will be used to implement the Reimagine Public Safety plan, a data-driven and community-based violence prevention initiative.
“Every neighborhood and every home deserve to be free from violence, and the State of Illinois is making an unprecedented statewide investment in the pursuit of violence reduction through the Reimagine Public Safety Act,” Pritzker said.
“Reimagine Public Safety is an evidence-based and data driven approach focusing on violence prevention, youth development, and the provision of trauma-based services. And we are putting an unprecedented amount of dollars – $250 million – on the ground to see it through,” he added.
Illinois Lieutenant Gov. Juliana Stratton said there “is no singular solution to ending violence in this state.”
“We have to employ a multi-pronged approach based on equity and collaboration,” Stratton said.
“As head of the Justice, Equity, and Opportunity Initiative and as a restorative justice practitioner, I’m proud that the Reimagine Public Safety Act embraces that approach. With this act, we are creating a comprehensive plan that will help us prevent violence in the first place by investing resources in historically overlooked communities and repairing the harm that perpetuates trauma that often leads to violence,” she added.
The new resources draw from federal and state funding, including $50 million from the fiscal year 2022 state budget.
The Pritzker administration said they will work with members of the General Assembly on additional $100 million appropriations in the budgets for fiscal years 2023 and 2024.
The governor’s office said that Pritzker has more than doubled violence prevention funding since taking office, with the state now appropriating $507 million for violence prevention, diversion and youth employment programs in FY22, including $125 million in funds made available from the American Rescue Plan Act.
“We must abandon the status quo because it continues to let us down and invest into the collective samaritan such as our Illinois communities and neighborhoods; and this plan will do just that,” said State Senator Robert Peters, D-Chicago.
“With this, we’re on a path away from decades of policies that have led us to this point, and towards providing vital, trauma informed services so no child, no parent, and no neighbor are left alone and isolated. This will be the beginning of creating and maintaining public safety for all and not a few,” Peters added.
The Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA), sponsored by Peters and Representative Justin Slaughter, establishes the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFPV) to focus on reducing firearm violence in communities with the highest rates of gun violence.
Pritzker’s executive order declaring gun violence a public health crisis requires relevant state agencies to work with the new Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFVP) to address the “systemic causes of firearm violence and to develop trauma-informed and equity-based strategies,” the governor’s office said.
The overall violence prevention approach includes four key elements, including high-risk youth intervention programs, violence prevention services, youth development programs and trauma recovery services for young people.