RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — North Carolina counties, cities and towns often share some of the same crime fighting techniques and tools.
Gunshot detection systems are one example. But with more than 500 local and state agencies, it can be difficult for agencies to share with each other what works or doesn’t work. One of the top priorities for the North Carolina Office of Violence and Prevention is to improve that coordination.
Governor Roy Cooper established the office by executive order last March. Newly appointed director Gerard Tate has been on the job for just more than a month. The Iraq War veteran previously held roles in city-wide violence prevention and community policing programs in California, Georgia, Missouri and Washington, D.C.
“I think with all of the public safety and public health technologies that we have, if one is using it or the other is using it and they’re having better success or one is running into some barriers, we want to share that information,” said Tate.
The goal is to help reduce violence and the misuse of firearms by offering training and best practices. They’ll also help local law enforcement find the funding they need whether it’s from the federal level or non-profits.
“How do we improve workflows, data, funding streams, etc. to those local initiatives. And when and where it’s needed to fill gaps or where can the state step up to do things, particularly in state agencies.”
According to the Governor’s executive order, more than half of firearm-related deaths are suicides. American Indians and veterans are among the most frequent.
Tate said he hopes to take a holistic approach to get to the root of why people become violent in the first place. His office will work with the Injury and Violence Prevention Branch of the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services’ Division of Public Health to help with the health aspect.
“If they don’t have food, safe housing, stability and support system then we start to find other ways to cope, we start to find other ways for social activity that may not be pro-social, that may be anti-social. So how do we get those at the highest risk into the pro-social activity,” said Tate.
The majority of the state’s counties are rural, but Tate said they can often face the same challenges you see in larger urban areas.
“The rural communities share a lot of the same risk factors around poverty, lack of accessible mental health care, physical health care, reentry services as well. So, we’ll be paying very special attention,” he said.