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Mayor Bowser Launches First-of-Its-Kind Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
Building Blocks DC Will Focus on People and Places Most Affected by Gun Violence

(Washington, DC) – Today, Mayor Muriel Bowser announced the launch of the Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center (EOC), as part of a new comprehensive gun violence prevention program, Building Blocks DC. The EOC, a first-of-its-kind in the nation to deploy a public health approach to gun violence prevention, is located in the heart of Historic Anacostia in Ward 8.

“Today we are recognizing the scourge of gun violence for what it is: a public health crisis that requires a whole-government approach focused on people and places in our community,” said Mayor Bowser. “Too many lives have been taken, too many families have been traumatized, and too many neighborhoods have been left broken. With Building Blocks DC, we are committing to reversing these trends, saving lives, and better supporting our residents and communities most impacted by gun violence.”

Building Blocks DC will engage people most at-risk of becoming a victim or perpetrator of gun violence and focus initial efforts on working with individuals who:

  • Have been repeatedly arrested for gun-related offenses;
  • Are under active supervision by CSOSA or DYRS;
  • Have been directly impacted by gun violence; and
  • Have experienced the ripple effects of gun violence.

Building Blocks DC will work to create individualized wrap-around plans for support including housing, career and workplace readiness, mental health care, academic support, and other government services.

Building Blocks DC is a place-based, data-driven approach that uses comprehensive block-by-block analysis to pinpoint specific areas where gun violence is regularly happening. Using 2020 crime data, District officials identified 151 blocks that represent nearly 2% of all blocks in the District, but were the site of 41% of all gunshot-related crimes. The Building Blocks DC program will launch with efforts in several block segments in Historic Anacostia.

“Building Blocks DC will be taking a whole of government approach, in partnership with our most impacted communities, to address the urgent needs of our residents and co-create safe places,” said Linda Harllee Harper, Director of Gun Violence Prevention. “The Gun Violence Prevention Emergency Operations Center will be our infrastructure creating a process to coordinate collective action.”

The Gun Violence Prevention Center will be staffed by a team of DC government leaders who specialize in emergency management, government services, housing, job training, mental health, and social services. The Building Blocks DC program is funded with an initial investment of $15 million, and will be supported with additional funding in the upcoming Fiscal Year 2022 budget.