SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — What started as the End Gun Violence Program has now evolved into the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement, or ‘ONSE’ for short.
Now as an official city office, the mission is to identify potential civil unrest in the community and intervene before any lives can be lost.
“The ONSE office actually uses a whole of government approach, and we’re actually expanding beyond that to a whole of community approach where we’re embellishing all of our community partners as well as all the departments of government to work together as one cohesive team to combat the violence that we have in our community,” explained John Bush, Director of the Office.
Even though they don’t work directly with Savannah’s Police Department, they collaborate with over 20 partners throughout the community.
So far in 2022, it’s estimated that they’ve impacted over 300 at-risk children with services like food, clothing, housing, job opportunities, and mental health resources.
“Some of the measures that we do take in our community based approach to combating violence is we actually do go out and take a proactive approach when we identify situations that are spiraling up, we do what we can to deescalate those situations down,” Bush said. “None of us want to see a bad community, everybody wants to be safe, alive and out of jail, at home in our communities.”
That’s resulted in 18 assisted victims, 9 referrals for city services, and even one child handing over a hand gun.
Moving forward, they’re offering a number of services for children throughout the summer from camps in art and business, to entrepreneurship and employment opportunities, and even pop-up activities to keep children occupied while they’re out of school.
“The things that are going to work for the city of Savannah is the fact that we’re actually in our hearts ready to do the work and willing to do what it takes in order to combat violence. So working each department, each agency, each non-profit, each church, each community member working together collaboratively to combat violence,” said Bush.
You can click here for a full list of summer events as well as opportunities to get involved with the Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement.