Local leaders and community stakeholders in Bennington will meet next week with an array of representatives from state government to discuss approaches for reducing violence and harm in the community.
This first-of-its-kind summit, a daylong event scheduled for Monday, March 20, at Bennington College, is rooted in Gov. Phil Scott’s 10-Point Public Safety Enhancement & Violence Reduction Action Plan and will include representatives from more than 25 agencies, departments and organizations.
“The number one goal of state government is to ensure public safety and public health,” Gov. Scott said. “By bringing together local leaders and state government in a new, open and collaborative way, starting in Bennington, we can enhance our collective ability to innovate, create new approaches to address problems, and work together to strengthen our communities.”
This summit follows the model of Vermont’s nation-leading response to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the whole of state government worked synergistically across agencies and with local communities. The goal of the Bennington summit is to identify action items that will begin to address gaps and increase leadership connections to better coordinate public safety and public health efforts in the region. The structure developed at the summit will be new and inclusive, built on the VISION model created in 2013 in Rutland.
“We are looking forward to building on the work already underway in Bennington focused on addressing gaps in services that, if improved, will enhance public safety and public health,” said Jennifer Morrison, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety. “This is not about enforcing our way out of violent crime or drug use. This is a multifaceted effort that combines public health, public safety, education and other strategies to reduce violence and harm in the community.”
Among the attendees at the invitation-only summit are representatives from Gov. Scott’s Office; the Department of Public Safety; the Agency of Human Services, including the Department of Health and the Department for Children and Families; the town of Bennington; United Counseling Service; Bennington Hospital; the Bennington Police Department; and community stakeholders.
“Bringing people together to find solutions to shared safety issues is vital in building healthy and sustainable communities,” Agency of Human Services Secretary Jenney Samuelson said. “We must create coalitions of caring adults to support those in need — especially children, who do not have an official voice at the table without those advocates. We want to be a partner in providing safe and healthy housing, which is a prerequisite to community stability.”
Categories: Local government