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Gun violence prevention group advocates for federal funding

Focused Interruption works with victims and perpetrators of gun violence in Dane County.
Published: Apr. 23, 2021 at 3:36 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - A local organization is hoping to receive federal funding from President Biden’s American Rescue Plan. The bill allocates $5 billion dollars over eight years to evidence-based community violence-prevention programs.

Focused Interruption works with victims and perpetrators of gun violence in Dane County.

Jerome Dillard, a Focused Interruption Outreach Worker, has formed relationships through the program with at-risk youth.

“Many are victims of violence before they become perpetrators of violence,” said Dillard.

He has had a positive impact on men like Derrick Bowman, who received support as a teenager.

“You can get lead by the wrong people or you could get lead by the right people,” said Bowman. “Him and his group that was behind me gave me the love and encouragement that I needed.”

President and CEO Anthony Cooper says their outreach programs do make a difference and need financial support.

“We’re tapped,” said Cooper. “There’s no way for us to be able to keep up.”

Part of the outreach includes responding to the scenes of violent crimes and assisting victims and their families navigate immediate medical and legal concerns.

“Our city and county has backed us in ways that they can,” said Cooper. “We need to be able to change our structure to be able to hire more people to be able to respond to critical events.”

Chief Operations Officer Nicholas Loumos says accessing funding is a top priority. He estimates with a $3 million dollar budget, Focused Interruption could reduce rates of gun violence by 20 – 30 percent over the next three to five years.

“The political will as well the public will is there and we very much appreciate that,” said Loumos. “We do need to translate that into funding which we can then translate into these evidence-based models which will translate into lives saved.”

Loumos says the group will advocate on the local and state level to receive the funding.

Since Focused Interruption began in 2016, community members have helped over 300 victims of gun violence.

To learn more about the organization, click HERE.

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