Contact: Matt Laible, Communications Department, (612) 673-2786

New committee launches effort to prevent youth violence in Minneapolis

April 2, 2007 (MINNEAPOLIS) Minneapolis’ new Youth Violence Prevention Committee held its first formal meeting today, launching an approximately four-month-long effort to develop strategies aimed at preventing youth violence in the city.

A significant upswing in juvenile crime has fueled an increase in violent crime in Minneapolis in the last few years. In November 2006, the Minneapolis City Council and Mayor R.T. Rybak approved a resolution recognizing youth violence as a public health issue and establishing a committee to tackle the issue. The 30-member committee will meet regularly for approximately four months and expects to complete a final report in July. A progress report to the Mayor, City Council and Youth Coordinating Board will be made by May 31.

The committee is charged with developing a multi-year implementation plan to prevent youth violence that includes components addressing outreach, education and communications. It will also work to coordinate City and County efforts to prevent youth violence and identify gaps in services, policy and funding that affect juvenile crime.

"I think that many people are shocked to learn that homicide is the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24 in Minneapolis," said Mayor R.T. Rybak, who is a member of the committee. "We’re losing too many of our young people to crime, and we know it’s going to take the involvement of government, law enforcement, families and community to surround those young people on the brink and give them the support they need before they turn to crime."

"I am very excited about the quality, commitment and skill of the people on this committee," said City Council Member Cam Gordon, who is also a member of the committee. "Youth violence is a one of the most serious and persistent public health problem today in Minneapolis. It requires a comprehensive plan founded on the best research and best practices possible. With the formation of this committee, we have a unique opportunity not only to identify more effective ways to curb violent crime and save lives in the short term, but also to address the root causes of crime and develop the kind of long-term, comprehensive strategies needed to prevent youth violence."

"Approaching youth violence as a public health problem opens new doors to us beyond what can be done from a law enforcement perspective," said Karen Kelley-Ariwoola, Vice President of Community Philanthropy for The Minneapolis Foundation, who is a co-chair of the committee. "Preventing youth crime is equally as important as making arrests, and it's less costly to our community over time. There is a lot of good work being done at many levels to prevent youth violence, and this will help us move towards a more coordinated system of supports for young people so they have the best chance of success."

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Published Apr. 2, 2007