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Hillsborough County begins financing plan to address violence

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As gun violence has been increasing alarmingly in Tampa and other parts of the United States, the Hillsborough County Commission acted Wednesday to fund the first steps in a process to address such criminal behavior in the county.

The board approved $233,588 to give to the Corporation to Develop Communities of Tampa (CDC) to become the agency to lead the “Safe and Sound” plan proposed by the county’s Violence Prevention Collaborative. The agreement is for one year, and will provide services related to the health and safety of the county and implement a strategic plan that prevents violence.

Officials with the CDC said one way out of the violence is jobs for the economically impoverished areas of town, but Commissioner Les Miller said that wasn’t necessarily the case.

“One more kid getting killed on the streets of Tampa/Hillsborough County is just one too many,” he said. “It’s gotten totally out of control. And we’re talking about spending money here, but we’ve got to figure out how we’re going to stop this stuff.”

Tampa has endured 19 homicides so far in 2015, more than double the same number from a year ago. The death of 14-year-old Tampa resident Edward Harris on Sunday has jolted parts of the community, shaken by the violence.

Miller said he’s been working to find summer jobs for inner-city youth, but it’s not going to stop the gangs in Hillsborough County. He said he wanted to work with the CDC, but there needs to be specific measurable goals established to see if progress is being achieved.

The overall plan is for five years, with an additional $409,558 coming from other sources. Beckner cautioned that this was a long-term plan, and that nobody should expect immediate results.

Nevertheless, the CDC is expected to report back to the BOCC every six months with an update on how the plan is progressing.

Mitch Perry has been a reporter with Extensive Enterprises since November of 2014. Previously, he served as five years as the political editor of the alternative newsweekly Creative Loafing. He also was the assistant news director with WMNF 88.5 FM in Tampa from 2000-2009, and currently hosts MidPoint, a weekly talk show, on WMNF on Thursday afternoons. He began his reporting career at KPFA radio in Berkeley. He's a San Francisco native who has now lived in Tampa for 15 years and can be reached at mitch.perry@floridapolitics.com.

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