Office of Violence Prevention's efficacy called into question, Milwaukee leaders respond

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Questions about the efficacy of the city of Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention are circulating City Hall.

"OVP is consistently questioned on our work, and the importance of our work, the worthiness of our work in many respects, and if we should be funded or not," Director Arnitta Holliman said.

Holliman and data specialists with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) presented evaluation plans to the Public Safety and Health Committee at the request of Ald. Michael Murphy on Thursday, June 30.

"This is not a gotcha moment," Murphy said during a Public Safety and Health Committee Meeting.

Murphy said he wants to see proof that OVP is effective.

"In the final analysis, what we're looking for is -- do these programs work?" Murphy said. "If they're working, great, but if they're not working, then we shouldn't be throwing money at them."

Specifically, Murphy is asking to see data and outcomes from OVP and the programs it funds. If he doesn't like what he sees, Murphy and other members said they'd consider putting the city's funding elsewhere.

"It looks like the dog days are ahead financially," Ald. Scott Spiker said during a Public Safety and Health Committee Meeting. "Decisions are going to have to be made, and there's not going to be enough to go around."

Holliman is looking for answers, too.

"My question is if there is no OVP, then what? What is the violence prevention plan for this city?" Holliman asked.

Holliman told CBS 58 defunding OVP means leaving thousands of youth and families without vital resources.

"We should be supporting every and all efforts in order to reduce violence in Milwaukee, including efforts to stop it before it even starts," Mayor Cavalier Johnson said.

Johnson said OVP plays a role in Milwaukee's team effort to turn violent trends around.

"It cannot just be myself. It cannot just be the chief," Johnson said.

Milwaukee Police Chief Jeffrey Norman said he knows that it's not just his department doing the work. He said OVP meets with his staff for weekly reviews.

"I'm appreciative," Norman said. "I see the work. I see the effort."

Holliman says they'll have the data in December to reflect that.

"We feel it, we know it, and we are dedicated to it. We have consistently created, we have consistently provided data. We will continue to do that, but we also need the support," Holliman said.

This is part two of a CBS 58 Special Report. Click here to read part one.

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