By Aneesa Grant, The Tacoma True Citizen
Last week, the Tacoma City Council unanimously passed Resolution 41197, a comprehensive plan aimed at addressing the issue of youth violence within the city. The resolution, spearheaded by At-Large Council Member Kiara Daniels, alongside Mayor Victoria Woodards, Deputy Mayor Kristina Walker, and District 4 Council Member Catherine Ushka, emphasizes the city’s commitment to safeguarding its young population and implementing effective violence prevention measures.
Acknowledging the gravity of the national gun violence crisis and Tacoma’s own tragic experiences with gun-related homicides involving young individuals, Daniels said the resolution not only addresses immediate concerns but also lays the groundwork for long-term investments in violence prevention.
“We are redoubling our efforts to address youth violence and taking urgent action to protect kids this summer,” said Daniels. “We simply will not stand by while we lose our kids to gun violence. We also understand that longer-term work is needed to ensure the City is investing in violence prevention, and this resolution paves the way for that work.
Resolution 41197 brings together various government entities, including Tacoma Public Schools and Metro Parks Tacoma, as well as a coalition of providers, in a collective effort to take immediate action. The resolution allocates $200,000 to establish Whole Child Safe Zone sites, a pioneering program that aims to create up to 12 secure spaces for teenagers attending Tacoma Public Schools. An additional $100,000 is designated for expanding summer programs tailored for middle and high school-aged youth.
In tandem with the establishment of Whole Child Safe Zone sites, Resolution 41197 calls for the integration of data-driven goals to reduce gun violence within the city’s Community Safety Strategy. It emphasizes the need for alternative approaches to violence prevention that extend beyond traditional policing, with a particular focus on prioritizing the safety of Black male youth aged 12 to 18.
In addition, the resolution tasks City Manager Elizabeth Pauli with collaborating with public policy research organizations to conduct youth asset mapping, allowing for more targeted violence prevention programming. It also urges further research into enhancing safe storage practices for firearms and an analysis of recent federal legislation that could potentially help curb gun violence in Tacoma.
Mayor Woodards underscored the city’s unwavering commitment to addressing youth violence and highlighted the importance of collaboration with community partners.
“We remain deeply committed to addressing the issue of youth violence,” said Woodards. “We will continue to collaborate with our community partners – including Pierce County, Metro Parks Tacoma, Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, Tacoma Public Schools, the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, and Pierce Transit – in an effort to better align and focus our resources in support of our youth. I invite others who want to join us in our efforts to do so, because it will take all of us working together to make a difference.”
Deputy Mayor Walker expressed pride in the resolution and stressed the need for unified action to protect Tacoma’s children, noting, “There are no easy answers, but we will not give up on our kids.”
Council Member Ushka praised the resolution for its comprehensive approach and expressed gratitude to Council Member Daniels for her leadership in bringing it forward. She emphasized that the resolution represents a significant step towards collective action and the reduction of youth violence, stating, “Every child deserves to survive to adulthood. The City of Tacoma has an obligation to do everything we can to make that happen.”