If you follow the police beat in the paper, recent news coming out of the North and East sides has rocked the community. Earlier this week we witnessed the death by homicide of a young man on East Washington Ave. The week prior, four young men were seriously injured further out on The Ave. Between those two events, another young man was seriously injured in an incident on North Stoughton Rd. All were victims of gun violence.
There is little doubt that those cases will be thoroughly investigated and those responsible will be brought to justice. There is also little doubt that across the country and in Madison we will continue to experience violent gun events often with tragic results. So what can we do to try to get out in front of the next event? What can we do to help prevent even one more episode of gun violence?
As it happens, even while the cases above were playing out, officers from our neighborhood cadre, the gang prevention unit and our safety education group were already planning a family safety event to address some of these issues. Last Wednesday, families in the Truax Neighborhood on the northeast side were hosted at a safety event at the East Madison Community Center (EMCC). The event focused primarily on kids and gun safety. The main message to kids if you see or find a gun? "Stop! Don't touch! Get away! Tell an adult."
To stress safety first, free gun locks and information on current Wisconsin firearms laws and safe gun handling were available to adults.
So how do you get families and kids, more than 75 in all, to an event about family safety? Food, of course. The presentation was part of a community dinner at the First Annual Truax Chili Cook-off. Celebrity chefs included a team from Hawthorne Elementary School, Alder David Aherns, Officers Nieves-Reyes and Dexheimer, Sarah Gilmore, John Harmelink and Citizen Q. The consensus winner for best chili was Maria Loy's, Hawthorne Hot Pot o' Chili.
We know that events like these are only a small part of the gun violence reduction solution. But they are important in bringing awareness to those who find themselves in the proximity of firearms, be they legal, illegal or even facsimile. The Madison Police are long time practitioners of problem oriented, community policing and can attest to the value of relationships and community connections developed in these settings.
The department appreciates the outstanding efforts of our community partners in making this a successful event. We thank the staff at EMCC, the folks at The Road Home, The Madison Community Policing Foundation, Hawthorne Elementary School, Joining Forces for Families, Meridian Management Company, MG&E, Chick-fil-A, Alder Aherns, Police Officers Rodney Wilson, Terry Loos and Carren Corcoran and K9 Slim.
Neighborhood Resource Officer,