AKRON, Ohio — The city of Akron will spend $20 million from American Rescue Plan funds in a new strategy to fight youth and community violence, Mayor Dan Horrigan said Thursday in a release.

What You Need To Know

  • Akron will spend $20 million in American Rescue Plan funds to roll out five key strategies in the framework

  • The framework builds on a Youth Violence Prevention Taskforce first convened in 2016

  • The key pillars include prevention, intervention and support, enforcement, partnership and advocacy and community accountability

  • Akron’s violent crime rate has risen substantially since 2019

The city released a Five Point Framework for Community Violence Reduction in Akron, which details five key strategies designed to reduce violence and lists the key partners involved. The framework is hoped to spark community conversation, the city said.

Akron has had a rapid escalation in violence in the past couple years. The city’s murder rate in 2019 was nearly doubled in 2020, leaping from 23 to 41, according to the LexisNexis Community Crime Map. The map is populated using police-department data.

So far in 2021, Akron is on its way to surpassing last year, logging 37 murders since January.

Reducing violence is a top priority for the city, Horrigan said, and no “one-strategy-fits-all” exists.

Akron five-point chart
The city detailed a five-point framework for combatting youth and community violence. (Courtesy city of Akron)

“It will take a whole-of-Akron approach to truly make a difference and reduce gun violence, long-term," he said. "We will work with the community to address the root causes of violence, including unmet mental health needs and underfunded recreational and mentoring resources.  We will also work across the criminal justice system to identify gaps, target enforcement to known hot spots and dangerous offenders, and advocate for state and federal policy that supports a safer Akron.”

The five-point framework is based on the pillars of a Youth Violence Prevention Taskforce convened in Akron in 2016, Horrigan said. The framework includes:

  • Prevention — Work to create stable neighborhoods, healthy recreational opportunities and economic hope to stop violence before it happens. Partners include the city, the Akron community, nonprofits, schools, sports and faith-based organizations.
  • Intervention & Support: Provide mental health support to at-risk individuals to create an overall safer community. Partners include the city, the Akron community, local hospitals, Summit County ADM Board, service providers, nonprofits and the Akron Police Department.
  • Enforcement: Rely on Akron police and local judicial system to keep dangerous offenders out of the community to push to end illegal gun and drug trades. Partners include the city and county law enforcement and judicial partners, state and federal law enforcement and the Akron community.
  • Partnership & Advocacy: Promote effective legislation, and develop strong state and national policy to reduce violence to have a lasting impact on violence. Partners include local elected officials and criminal justice policy-makers at all levels, including the judicial system.
  • Community Accountability:  Empower residents, neighborhoods groups and stakeholders to take ownership of problems and develop solutions. Partners include the Akron community, faith-based entities, neighborhood groups, community leaders, schools and family members.

The five-point framework is a “living document” that can help organize efforts to reduce violence and should be built upon throughout that process, the city said.

To view the framework, visit the city’s website.