UPDATE 12/14/21 (11:15 p.m.)–

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– The four-hour Champaign City Council meeting concluded around 11:05 p.m. Tuesday night. The proposed “Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint” advanced with a unanimous “yes” from the council. Final approval is expected in January.

UPDATE 12/14/21 (10:15 p.m.)–

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– There was a lot of passionate discussion at a packed council meeting Tuesday night. City leaders proposed a multi-million dollar “Community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint”.

During an about two-and-a-half-hour public comment period, there were some thanks to city leaders for bringing it forward and for showing the research that has been saying the violence is adversely impacting predominately Black neighborhoods.

Those that live in neighborhoods and speakers with organizations fighting on the front lines day after day — those that have watched loved ones die — said they’ve been asking for this for years. And, after two years of record-breaking gun violence, the consensus was that change is overdue.

One mother showed council members pictures of bullets that were shot at her son’s room in the Garden Hills neighborhood.

“We’re begging for help,” she shared.

“Who do you turn to, because these guys are out to get you?” added James “Tygar” Corbin with non-profit FirstFollowers. “You don’t get to the police so you take matters into your own hands, but when you’ve got a relationship established with someone in a program, such as FirstFollowers…as well as other programs that create these mentors, now you can turn their mind around and say, ‘You can create that shift.’ And that’s what we’re trying to do, a paradigm shift, and it works.”

The proposed blueprint would strengthen existing community services and invest in the gaps.

The plan is to use $6.2 million in federal American Rescue Plan money.

Another recurring question from council members and speakers was: Where will the funding come from after ARPA money is used up in two years?

City Manager Dorothy Ann David expressed concern about this but said she expects some budget growth in the years coming out of the pandemic, and she hopes as the blueprint rolls out, local philanthropists would help fill in the gaps.

Original article 12/14/21 (4:30 p.m.) —

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. (WCIA)– In a more than 100-page document, the City of Champaign laid out a multi-million dollar plan to reduce gun violence. City leaders are calling it the community Gun Violence Reduction Blueprint.

$6.2 million is the price tag, and the most money Champaign has proposed putting into reducing violence to date.

The idea, according to Deputy City Manager Joan Walls, is to attack gun violence at the core by expanding the programs that are already working on youth activities, re-entry services, and so on. Then, because they would be under the umbrella of this blueprint, the city will be able to — and plans to — track if it’s working and re-evaluate. Data that hasn’t been as tangible in the past.

“We’re going to really dig deep and we’re going to look at what some of the root causes are, and so, this is a perfect storm,” Walls said, referring to the timing with the availability of American Rescue Plan funding.

The request is for $3.2 million of the city’s $25 million in ARPA funding for implementation in 2022 and another $3 million to put on hold for 2023.

Not too long ago, the city asked what the community wanted to see federal the COVID-19 relief money spent on. The overwhelming response was reducing gun violence, something that has been on the rise in the city since 2013, according to the blueprint.

Council will hold a study session Tuesday night about this blueprint. Walls said they’re expecting a crowd for public input. At the end of the meeting, the council will direct the city on where to take the first steps.

But this is an extensive plan, so we asked the deputy city manager where the biggest gap exists in her eyes.

“Probably the number one gap that we really want to build out and is a part of the proposal is the ‘Street Outreach,'” she responded. “The ‘Street Outreach’ is really allowing individuals who have the street credibility to actually connect and engage with those individuals who are actively involved in firearms offenses.”

She said the hope is to get things rolling as early as possible next year.

If the council agrees to move forward, there will be a grant application process for local agencies and organizations.

The blueprint also proposes a new city department: The Equity and Engagement Department.

Chart courtesy of the City of Champaign