ST. PAUL, Minn. — On Wednesday, the Senate Judiciary and Public Safety Committee heard testimony on a bill (SF 412) that would give one-time funds to The Violence Project, a nonprofit, nonpartisan research center based in Minnesota and dedicated to reducing violence in society. Chief author Senator Sandra Pappas (DFL-St. Paul) testified in support of the bill alongside the co-founders of The Violence Project.
“The Violence Project has developed an integrated, interdisciplinary understanding of violence and a holistic approach to addressing it,” said Senator Pappas. “They’re best known for their work on gun violence prevention, and The Violence Project also pioneered a new mental illness crisis intervention and de-escalation training for law enforcement that has changed the way officers think about community policing. This funding would help The Violence Project develop research in new areas, including domestic violence and community violence, that would help make our communities safer and more peaceful.”
“This funding will enable us to really build upon the foundation that we have created over the last three years—the work we have done to become a critical resource for Minnesotans, for practitioners and for policymakers; to provide technical assistance in areas like school threat assessment… and also to evaluate existing policy and praxis around gun violence prevention, so that we can guide the decisions we make with evidence,” said Dr. James Densley, co-founder and president of the Violence Project. “A lot of this is about expanding the work we’re doing, making sure the work we do feeds back into policy and praxis, and that we make decisions based on evidence and data and analysis.”
“Our goal is to add data to our conversations around gun violence prevention and violence prevention,” said Dr. Jillian Peterson, co-founder and president of the Violence Project. “We take a data-driven nonpartisan approach and for that reason we see a lot of support for our work across the political spectrum. We find that it’s something that can bring people together when you’re doing the deep dive into the really complex roots of violence. We’re now expanding our work: We’ve been working with the Saint Paul Public Schools to understand the root causes of their increases in violence, and we’ve launched a new project looking at the increase in homicides in the Twin Cities in the pandemic to get a deep understanding of what happened so we can build evidence-based strategies moving forward.”
The committee laid SF 412 over for possible inclusion in a budget omnibus bill.