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Joliet Township Government joins national violence prevention network visit to White House

Joliet, Illinois – May 23, 2024On May 22, 2024, Supervisor Angel Contreras and Peace Over Violence Director Keshia Ellis of Joliet Township Government joined other members of the National Offices of Violence Prevention Network (NOVPN) by participating in an event hosted by the White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention focused on community violence intervention and collaborative work to build an ecosystem of Offices of Violence Prevention (OVPs) to keep our communities safe. 

OVPs, also known as offices of neighborhood safety and other names, are premised on the notion that community safety should not be the exclusive province of policing and the criminal justice system. Charged with addressing public safety through the lens of public health, OVPs typically focus on the application of community-based strategies to intervene in or prevent violence for those at highest risk of engaging in or being the victim of gun violence.  

Joliet Township Government’s Violence Prevention Program includes Peace Over Violence (POV), a comprehensive program focused on reducing incidents of gun violence through case management, street outreach, and victim advocacy. Operating out of the Joliet Township Ozzie and Peggy Mitchell Center (formerly Peter Claver), POV is located at 172 S. Chicago, Joliet, Illinois 60432. Joliet Township Government’s Violence Prevention program also offers trauma-informed behavioral health services to aid those suffering in our community. The third component of the Violence Prevention Program is the Racial Equity Impact Assessment League (REIAL). Comprising community leaders, the league meets monthly to discuss collaborative opportunities that positively impact the community, coordinate emergency community engagement efforts, and assess the implementation of violence prevention programs. 

Numerous local and state governments have recently established OVPs in response to nationwide surges in violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. In line with this momentum, in September 2023, President Biden established the first-ever White House Office of Gun Violence Prevention to reduce gun violence and implement and expand upon key executive and legislative action which has been taken to save lives. This White House gathering of NOVPN members from more than 40 jurisdictions represents an exciting next step in President Biden’s commitment to ending gun violence in our country. 

Joliet Township Government Supervisor Angel Contreras said, “I’m very proud of the work our violence prevention team on the ground is doing in the Joliet area. Their commitment and passion often go unnoticed, but their impact is profound, shaping our community for the better. We are deeply grateful for the opportunity extended to us by the White House to participate in the NOVPN initiative. This recognition underscores the significance of our work. We look forward to increased funding to elevate our efforts, ensuring the continued support of our community, its initiatives, and organizations, all viewed through the critical lens of public health investment.”  

Peace Over Violence Director Keshia Ellis said, “Visiting the White House in representation of gun violence prevention was nothing short of amazing. The Biden administration is doing an amazing job of tackling the issues that surround gun violence. I am excited about the new funding opportunities, and their abilities to further help impacted individuals.” 

“The NOVPN team is excited to have Network members from across the country join us at the White House in this first of its kind discussion in our nation’s history,” said NOVPN Director Shantay Jackson. “These leaders are at the forefront of their local jurisdictions, working tirelessly with their communities and partner agencies in the reduction of gun violence and, as we head into the summer months, this conversation is necessary, timely, and invaluable.”