'All hands on deck.' Gov. Roy Cooper announces creation of Office of Violence Prevention

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Tuesday, March 14, 2023
Gov. Cooper announces the creation of Office of Violence Prevention
During the announcement, Governor Cooper said the problem requires an all-hands-on-deck approach.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper was joined by state officials and violence prevention advocates for an announcement at the Executive Mansion.

Governor Cooper on Tuesday announced the creation of the new Office of Violence Prevention, which the governor claims the office is the first of its kind in the South.

"This requires an all hands on deck approach," said Cooper when talking about violence in the state.

An executive order signed by Cooper created the office that will be housed under the Department of Public Safety.

"These offices are critical to addressing community safety throughout our state, preventing homicides, suicides, accidental shootings, things that we're all concerned about," NCGV executive director Becky Ceartas said.

"This office will really coordinate efforts by various state and local entities, provide training and technical assistance and really trying to get state, federal and philanthropic resources to come together to support really Community Based Violence Intervention programs and other violence prevention programs."

There are five cities throughout the state that have a community violence intervention program, according to Ceartas.

"Those programs definitely need more resources to expand to other areas," Ceartas said.

The number of young people shot in Durham so far this year has nearly doubled, according to DPD.

For Joslin Simms, who lost her son, Ray, to gun violence in Durham nearly two decades ago, enough is enough.

"I'm fed up with this violence," Simms said. "I am so fed up with it. Every time I hear about somebody getting killed, I start crying because it brings rage, and murder back to me."

Simms said more young people are getting involved in fatal shootings.

"You got to think about your future," Simms said. "It's not safe in schools. It's not safe at Walmart. It's not safe anywhere now, and it's like it's an everyday thing."

Simms called for federal, state and local leaders to take action, including safe storage, as she mourned her son's death.

"We go on with our life ... but inside we feel hurt," Simms said. "Ray was a part of me, and that part is empty. It will never be filled again."

"It will help us grow the infrastructure to tackle violence in a comprehensive and coordinated way," Cooper said.

SEE ALSO: Governor Cooper reduces barriers for prospective employees as state struggles to fill jobs

Full Press Conference Below

Full press conference of Gov. Cooper announcing creation of Office of Violence Prevention

The governor was joined in the Executive Mansion by Attorney General Josh Stein and numerous members of law enforcement from the Triangle.

"Right now we here in Raleigh are trying to do a violence interrupter program, and to hear the governor talk about a statewide program is really refreshing for me," said Raleigh Police Chief Estella Patterson.

"We have to focus on the violent offenders who are in our communities. There has to be more emphasis on holding those who are committing these violent crimes accountable," said Orange County Sheriff Charles Blackwood.

"We're having these incidents occur every day. We had another one last night. In the city of Durham. And we have to do something to address it," said Durham County Sheriff Clarence Birkhead.