“Prevent Gun Violence in Oakland County” Program receives the National Association of Counties 2014 Achievement Award

According to a recent press release, the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Public Services Committee and its Curbing Gun Violence Study Group’s efforts has garnered national recognition.  The bi-partisan initiative to “Prevent Gun Violence in Oakland County and Public Awareness Program” has been selected for a 2014 National Association of Counties Achievement Award.  The program was described as being innovative and was selected in the National Association of Counties (NACo) category of Civic Education and Public Information.

“This national recognition is a validation of the valuable work that the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Public Service Committee and the Curbing Gun Violence Study Group have conducted to address the issue of gun violence. We will continue to focus on our goal to decrease gun violence, despite, the complexity of the issue and the rising tide of violence plaguing our nation,” stated Oakland County Chairman of the Public Service Committee and Curbing Gun Violence Study Group Bill Dwyer, who is a 49-year law enforcement veteran.

Actions taken that resulted in the national recognition of the program included full review of the threat of gun violence, with experts from many facets of the issue and agencies participating  in gauging the situation in Oakland County following the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre and other mass shootings.

Public participation was another factor that was implemented into the program with the use of technology to engage the public in offering comments on the discussion of gun violence with the “Curbing Gun Violence Report and Survey” being posted on the Oakland County Board of Commissioners website.

Public engagement, public awareness and public information were crucial in the objectives established for the program with the Public Services Committee hosting a series of public informational hearings that were webcast, recorded and televised in 2013. These informational hearings consisted of testimonies from experts in Law Enforcement; Federal Law Enforcement; School Superintendents; Mental Health Care professionals; and Gun Rights advocates. Gun Responsibility was also a part of the informational hearings.

From the hearings, the “Gun Violence in Oakland County,” informational report was created. As a result of the committee’s study group, a series of bipartisan resolutions calling for action at the state and federal level were issued.  Grant funding for more local school law enforcement liaison officers were requested by resolution by the Board of Commissioners and sent to the Michigan Legislature.

A series of three public service announcements were created by the Oakland County Public Services Committee’s Curbing Gun Violence Study Group. In December 2013, legendary news anchor Diana Lewis recorded the first public service announcement to promote awareness to parents and adults about age appropriate content for children in accordance with the video games rating system. This public service announcement was created following the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook tragedy.

Ms. Lewis also donated her time taping the Public Services’ Study Group’s mental health and gun safety lock public service announcements. These announcements have been distributed to local public access, cable and commercial network stations.

The public service announcements were linked to the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ website at www.oakgov.com/boc. The tireless efforts of the Public Services Committee and its Curbing Gun Violence Study Group improved how different agencies work together to have a positive impact on the issue of gun violence and public safety.

The overall impact of the “Gun Violence in Oakland County” report has been a bipartisan and active effort towards better public policy. In addition, special efforts to draw awareness to the various aspects of the issue, with the report’s recommendations’ included promoting anniversaries and memorial events to bring attention to this issue.  In May 2014, the Committee’s study group recognized May as Mental Health Awareness Month and announced the FREE Mental Health Training programs available for county residents and other services.

On June 6, 2014, a Gun Safety Awareness Day Free Gun Lock Giveaway was hosted countywide with more than 38 law agencies joining this groundbreaking first-time collaborative effort. This effort was implemented by the Oakland County Board of Commissioners’ Public Services Committee’s Curbing Gun Violence Group, in partnership with the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office, Crime Stoppers and the Project ChildSafe/NSSF.org which donated 2,000 gun safety locks for the giveaway. The Oakland County Board of Commissioners supported the initiative, which also promoted June as National Safety Month in Oakland County.

Commissioner Bill Dwyer serves as Chairman of the Oakland County Board of Commissioners Public Services Committee and has worked with his colleague, Marcia Gershenson on this effort. Commissioners Dwyer and Gershenson, in conjunction, with the Public Services Committee and the Curbing Gun Violence Study Group have made the national recognition possible.  The Commissioners serving on the Public Services Committee include Board members Helaine Zack, Mike Bosnic, Michael Spisz, Gary McGillivray and Shelley Goodman Taub. The study group consists of Commissioners Helaine Zack, Marcia Gershenson, Michael Spisz, Gary McGillivray and Mike Bosnic.

“I would like to congratulate the members of our Public Services Committee for being recognized by NACO for their work in addressing gun violence.  This is a serious issue in Oakland County and the nation. The committee’s ability to work in a bi-partisan manner in order to positively impact the issue deserves recognition,” stated Oakland County Board Chairman Michael J. Gingell.

Public Services Committee Chairman Bill Dwyer and Commissioner Marcia Gershenson have continued the bipartisan effort, as specified by their resolution MR#13017, to Examine How Oakland County Citizens Are Protected From Gun Violence. The public is encouraged to go online, to read the report and provide feedback. The information is online at www.oakgov.com/boc, click on the report and survey link to offer insight or view one of the three public service announcements.

“It is gratifying to receive this award which was made possible with the collaboration and support from county officials, stakeholders from education, law enforcement, mental health, the media, the public and the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office,” stated Oakland County Commissioner Marcia Gershenson.

About Sarah Hovis

Freelance wordsmith, arts appreciator, grammar geek, sports spectator, stationery snob, and world traveler, Sarah charts her own course as the owner of saliho creative. She uses her creative mind and engaging dialogue to fearlessly bring the written word to life in print and online… all while keeping a watchful eye out for the next literary adventure. You can reach her at sarah@rochestermedia.com.

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