LANSING, Mich. — Ingham County saw a 200 percent increase in gun violence last year. Now county officials are hoping a violence prevention and mentoring program will help lower those numbers.
“Dealing with gun violence to me is a regional concern, not something for one particular municipality,” said Mark Polsdofer, an Ingham County commissioner and chair of the Law and Courts Committee.
The Ingham County Board of Commissioners and Lansing City Council are floating the idea of partnering with Advance Peace, a California non-profit, to launch a program that aims to curb gun violence.
“We reach out to the individuals who are at the center of firearm activity and we provide a very focused, dedicated engagement," said DeVone Boggan, the founder of Advance Peace.
In 2020, Ingham County reported more than 20 gun-related homicides and more than 450 incidents of shots fired, both higher than the previous year.
Polsdofer says this program would come at a critical time.
“Society is going to be moving at some point soon into that post-pandemic situation," he said. "This is a good tool to make sure those hands on daily mentors are there to help people get out of situations where they would kind of fall back into gun violence."
For Boggan, a Lansing native whose younger brother died from gun violence, the proposed partnership is personal.
“There are lots of people there that I love that are being impacted by this violence because this kind of violence impacts all of us," he said.
The county Law and Courts Committee will vote on the program proposal Wednesday. It will then need approval from the full board by May so it can be included in the next fiscal year's budget.
The program will cost the county $160,000 a year, totaling nearly $600,000 by the time it wraps up in 2024.
Polsdofer says the chance of changing things for the better is worth the price.
“The cost of doing nothing is a continuing path of gun violence versus getting the county and other communities involved to get this program up and running,” he said.
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