Description of original award (Fiscal Year 2023, $4,983,728)
Through our strategic planning process, which included a thorough review and analyzation of data, the following priorities were identified by the Board for potential use of funds upon receipt of the Byrne SCIP award. Upon receipt of grant funds, OGR will address priority areas by supporting evidence-based, proven effective programs and practices, innovative ideas, and creative solutions.
The priority areas identified are as follows:
ERPO Support: Need for education and training to inform the public as well as public safety stakeholders on the ERPO law in hope of enhancing access to ERPO programs as well as increasing reporting. Such improvements will be supported by funding public awareness campaigns, educational training and available resources via dissemination of best practices.
Improve Data Collection and Research on Preventing and Decreasing Gun Violence: Must collect updated data on shots fired and non-fatal shootings and allocate funds specifically dedicated to solving non-fatal shootings in hopes of removing more firearms and repeat offenders off the streets. Research, planning and evaluation are critical components to any initiative supported with this award. Funding research partners to assist the Commonwealth with identifying trends and needs will inform the Board how best to utilize future Byrne SCIP awards.
Behavioral Health Deflection for those at Risk to Themselves or Others: First, funding is needed to identify and provide behavioral health services to individuals in crisis who are at risk of harming themselves or others prior to incident escalation. The consensus of the Board is to make funds available to train and support individuals who serve or are families of individuals who are in crisis. Funds will also be available to support education and training programs for families of individuals in crisis on how to identify risk factors and connect their loved ones to available behavioral health services in the community.
Second, funds should be made available to support the use of behavioral threat assessment programs and trainings for use in schools to better identify potential threats and intervene before they escalate into violent attacks. Funds will be made available for conducting school-based behavioral threat assessment trainings and/or school-based behavioral threat assessment teams to identify, assess, and prevent threats to student and school safety.
Law Enforcement-based Programs, Training and Technology: Support the safe and secure storage, tracking and return of relinquished guns. Some of these programs involve investing in gun locks and storage for individuals and businesses, out of the house gun storage programs, “take the keys” initiatives, and gun buy-back programs. Training for law enforcement can consist of de-escalation training and active shooter training and facilitating officers’ ability to attend specialized training with overtime. Software/technologies to track relinquished guns will also be considered. We must first assess the landscape of existing programs and practices in Massachusetts to determine the challenges, gaps and needs before moving forward with specific recommendations.
Community Violence Intervention Programs: Make funds available for law enforcement agencies and departments to not only focus on enforcement related to gun crime but to also collaborate with community-based organizations to expand youth gun violence prevention programming and services for youth at risk for gang recruitment/involvement. The Board emphasized the importance of collaboration among multiple partners including district attorneys, law enforcement, probation, social services, and community-based agencies to reduce and prevent gun crime.