Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teams to Hit the Streets in Fight to Stem Gun Violence, Provide Help

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Teams to Hit the Streets in Fight to Stem Gun Violence, Provide Help

Article excerpt

Teams from the Allegheny County Health Department soon will be on the ground in neighborhoods hardest hit by gun violence to try to stymie what officials see as a public health crisis.

The health department has started the process to give a total of $310,000 to two organizations that can provide street outreach and trauma response teams in five regions across the city and county.

Members of the street outreach teams will try to prevent gun violence, and members of the trauma response teams will provide counseling and aid to those affected by gun violence, said Taili Thompson, program manager for the health department's Office of Violence Prevention.

The street outreach teams will work in communities outside Pittsburgh's city limits, including Penn Hills, Mount Oliver, McKeesport, Rankin and Braddock. The trauma response teams will work in those areas as well as in city neighborhoods, including the North Side, Hill District, Homewood, Allentown, Beltzhoover and the South Side.

The money will support the organizations for two years, said Roderick Harris, the health department's deputy director.

Businesses, nonprofits or partnerships can apply for the funding but must have experience providing similar services, an ability to train workers, and a clear plan for tracking and documenting its work, according to a request for proposals from the health department.

Street outreach team members should be plugged in to their communities, Mr. Thompson said, so that they can anticipate when a conflict is leading to violence and take steps to stop it.

"A street outreach worker will know, 'If I don't get these particular individuals employed, then these guys will bring this disease to the area because of what they're involved in right now,' " Mr. Thompson said, referring to gun violence as a disease.

The street outreach teams may monitor social media for potential disputes, visit shooting victims in hospitals to discourage retaliation, and mediate simmering conflicts before they turn violent. They'll work exclusively in the county but will likely collaborate with the city's service providers, according to a request for proposal. …

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