NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC – Friday, the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners met with the Board of Education, law enforcement, and other community officials to discuss this week’s school shooting at New Hanover High School.
Their goal was to work together and find a way to better respond to such violence and prevent it in the first place. County Commissioners ensured they’d start this process with millions of dollars in funding.
“I’d like to make the motion that allows the County manager to access part of, not all of it, part of whatever amount necessary of the $350 million,” Commission Chair Julia Olson-Boseman motioned, “that we have set aside to address this crisis that we have in our community.”
The group opted to focus on violence not only in schools, but also across the county as a whole. New Hanover County Commissioners unanimously passed a motion allocating up to $350 million of funding to solve gun violence.
“There are pockets of this community where crime is an ever-present daily reality, and there’s other parts where it seems only theoretical,” explained District Attorney Ben David. “Those two realities collide under the roofs of our schools. And what we’re saying is for all of us to be truly safe, we have to take this as a community issue and not merely a school one.”
The meeting focused heavily on Durham’s Bull City United program, which uses men and women within communities to make authorities aware of conflict and to solve it on the community level.
According to Chief District Court Judge, J. Corpening, “They go in and they use mediation practices, but they most of all look to interrupt violence.”
The program addresses violence as a public health issue, enabling easier access to resources.
“Then followed by employment, connection with social services,” Corpening continued. “By connection with whatever they need to change their lives for the better. And its working in Durham, and I believe it’s working here, too.”
Meetings between Durham and New Hanover County will begin in the coming weeks. The Board of Education is already using those most affected as advisors.
“Part of the research, yes, we’re looking at data programs across the country, but we also need to look at our own local data,” said Board of Education Chair Stefanie Adams. ‘And that’s our people that were on the ground when this occurred.”
The $350 million in county funds were established through the sale of New Hanover Regional Medical Center for the purpose of dealing with a community crisis and emergency. The two county funds include a Revenue Stabilization Fund and a Mental and Behavioral Health Fund.
“These funds exist for the county to use in emergency situations and to support mental and behavioral health in the community,” said Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Olson-Boseman. “Not all $350 million will be utilized by any means, but we will use a portion of the funds to invest in strategic and deliberate ways with evidence-based programs and initiatives to make a real and meaningful difference. We will work together with our school system, Sheriff’s Office, court system, DA’s office, city, and other community partners to provide them with what they need to ensure the safety of our schools, but also address the violence among our youth. This is a community issue that has manifested itself in community violence; and we are united in working together to develop a plan that is proactive to help prevent violence from occurring, provide the right supports and intervention mechanisms needed, and ensure the safety of the children and families throughout our community.”