File Photo – Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker | Photo: Illinois Information Service

Gov. J.B. Pritzker signed a bill into law on Friday that will provide $250 million in state funding to anti-violence groups in an effort to reduce gun violence across Illinois.

In early November, Pritzker declared gun violence a public health crisis in Illinois while signing the Reimagine Public Safety Act (RPSA), which established the Office of Firearm Violence Prevention (OFPV).

The OFPV will focus on reducing firearm violence in communities with the highest rates of gun violence.

On Friday, Pritzker signed a trailer bill to the RPSA that will provide a $250 million state investment over the next three years to implement the act in partnership with community-based organizations.

Illinois will expand upon the state’s evidence-based violence prevention services by identifying community-based organizations to serve as advisors for the initiative.

The grants will assist the organizations as they pursue reducing gun violence through youth development programs and the provision of trauma-based services, the governor’s office said.

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“The Reimagine Public Safety Act advances our commitment to make an unprecedented investment in public safety, utilize data to inform where help is most needed, address both immediate needs and systematic change to reduce gun violence, and most importantly, reach even more communities that have historically been left to fend for themselves,” Pritzker said.

“I thank Senator Peters and Representative Slaughter and leaders in the General Assembly, without whom this initiative would not be possible. No law can change the past or give back a life. But what we can do, we must do – and thanks to the Reimagine Public Safety plan, we are putting an unprecedented amount of dollars on the ground to save lives,” Pritzker said.

The legislation clarifies guidelines to implement the RPSA and gives both IDHS and the OFVP greater flexibility in their grant-making authority.

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To reach communities with higher concentrations of violence, the bill diversifies the neighborhoods where community-based organizations are eligible for grants, the governor’s office said.

Illinois Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton hailed the Reimagine Public Safety Act, saying “we can no longer rely on the same approach if we want to solve the escalating problem of violence caused by failed policies and decades of disinvestment.”

“We must be proactive, and we must provide resources for equitable violence prevention. The Reimagine Public Safety Act does just that,” Stratton said.

The OFVP will coordinate with the Illinois Criminal Justice Information Authority, Illinois Department of Public Health, Illinois Department of Healthcare, Family Services and other relevant state agencies to establish a public health approach to reducing gun violence.

The OFVP is led by Chris Patterson, who was appointed by Pritzker as Assistant Secretary for Violence Prevention at IDHS.

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“As a long-time advocate leading successful, grassroots firearm violence prevention efforts and a personal victim of firearm violence, today marks a new beginning for hard hit communities across the state. We want to see every neighborhood live safer. We are committed to carrying out the Governor’s vision to make Illinois a safe place for every resident,” Patterson said.