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RACINE – The City of Racine has been awarded nearly $800,000 in federal funding for community safety initiatives. The allocation, announced Monday by Gov. Tony Evers’ office, was described as “focusing on a public health approach to violence prevention.”

The City of Racine federal funding allocation breakdown:
  • About $225,000 to establish a “Safe and Sound” program that engages youth, neighbors and community organizations in working proactively and collaboratively with law enforcement.
  • About $150,00 to help fund a dedicated Violence Interruption Coordinator at the City of Racine Public Health Department. That position will work toward creating an overarching plan for tackling the factors that contribute to violence.
  • About $50,000 to help the City of Racine expand its credible messenger program that connects credible messengers with at-risk or justice-involved youth.
  • The remaining funds – more than $250,000 – will go toward purchasing license plate readers and surveillance cameras located in high-crime areas, and will cover summer overtime costs for law enforcement officers.

The federal dollars are on top of the $1.5 million that the Racine Common Council agreed on June 7 to allocate toward violence prevention and reduction. The city-directed spending includes $500,00 for streetlights with the capability to include cameras and shots-fired indicators; $120,000 to the Racine Unified School District for summer school youth mental health services; $50,000 for City of Racine Parks, Recreation and Cultural Services programming; $50,000 to Racine Neighborhood Watch, and $800,000 for community-driven or evidence-based violence prevention/reduction programs.

“Every Wisconsinite deserves safe neighborhoods to live, work, learn, and play in, and gun violence and crime has no place in our communities,” Evers said in a news release. “These investments, in addition to the strategic investments we have already made, will help curb the cycle of violence in Southeastern Wisconsin while ensuring young people are meaningfully engaged in their communities this summer and supporting local community programming to interrupt violence before it starts.”

City of Racine Mayor Cory Mason reflected on the city’s crisis of increased gun violence, recognizing Gov. Evers’ support for the community.

“I take the safety of our residents incredibly seriously and know that we must do everything we can to address the gun violence that is spreading throughout the community,” Mason said in a statement. “However, I also know that the city can’t do this on its own and that it takes partnerships—at many levels—to make real impacts. I can’t thank the governor enough for recognizing the crisis we face and for his willingness to partner and invest real resources into our city to help keep us all safe. His support brings additional resources to support law enforcement but also build on community programs aimed to stem the violence and reduce the trauma felt throughout the community.”

In addition to the federal funds for the City of Racine, the governor joined U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin in sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice to request immediate assistance on behalf of the cities of Racine and Milwaukee to respond to the disturbing increase in crime and gun violence in recent months.

“Existing grant programs at the Department of Justice, including the Justice Reinvestment Initiative and the Community Violence Initiative, are invaluable to helping communities address the complex factors that drive crime and recidivism,” they wrote. “Nevertheless, communities like Racine and Milwaukee require immediate assistance beyond these grant mechanisms to respond to ongoing violence. We are asking that the Department of Justice directly communicate with local officials in Racine and Milwaukee to provide technical assistance and identify federal resources that could be immediately leveraged to address this urgent situation.”

The cities of Milwaukee and Racine have experienced an uptick in gun violence this spring.

City of Racine voters will be asked in an Aug. 9 referendum to approve a $2 million local property tax increase starting in 2023. About $1.5 million of those funds will be used to restore 11 Racine Police Department positions that were lost via previous budget cuts.

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Paul Holley is retired from careers in journalism, public relations and marketing but not from life. These days, he pretty much writes about what he feels like writing. You may contact him directly at:...