Office of Violence Prevention Taking a Public Health Approach to Reducing Violence
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Mecklenburg County Health Department seems like an unlikely place to find a violence prevention office, but Tracie Campell, Senior Health Manager of the Office of Violence Prevention said that’s the point – they wanted their approach to be different .
Their goal is to stop violence before it starts — by reaching the people it impacts.
” It’s really about relationship building. When you think about violence prevention it impacts individuals, communities and families,” Campbell said.
According to CMPD, this year Mecklenburg County has had more than 100 homicides.
Campbell said preventing some of that violence starts in the community.
” This is a community plan. We asked the community what are your concerns about violence. What are your perceptions about violence. What do you want to see us do?,” Campbell said.
Research from a strategic plan shows 18 to 24 year olds make up nearly half of all homicide suspects with youth becoming increasingly more involved in violent crime.
Campbell said that’s why they’re partnering with CMS to create a youth advisory council and include them in being part of the solution.
” We want to make sure that youth voice is actually really prominent in this, so we’re actually going to work specifically with them to find out what they’re concerns are and what we need to be doing better for them to serve them.” Campbell said. “ So the school system is a perfect place for us to partner and do that work.”
That’s also the focus of local non profit Youth Advocate Programs which partners with the city of Charlotte to provide alternatives to violence.
” All of the work that we do is community based. We work with participants in their homes and in their communities to provide the resources they need to give them success and prevent any acts of delinquency and violence,” National Director of Community – Based safety initiatives for YAP Fred Fogg said.
While change won’t happen overnight, Campbell believes they’re on the right track.
” We’re getting there. We’re getting people involved, we’re getting people knowing what this plan is about and getting people to come out and volunteer and say they want to be a part of this. That’s huge, getting this collective impact and driving this forward.”
The plan aims to reduce the rates of homicides and gun related violence by 10% by 2028.