Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention

Strong communities are safe communities. Housed within the Community Services Division of the Department of Commerce, the Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention (OFSVP) is dedicated to supporting policies, strategies and programs with a goal of better understanding and reducing firearm violence in communities across Washington.

Legislative

The Legislature created OFSVP in 2020 (Ch. 43.330A RCW). The responsibilities of the office include:

  • Creating and maintaining a network of community intervention and reduction programs across the state
  • Developing best practice guidance and providing technical assistance
  • Identifying promising practices within Washington or in other states or countries, and supporting efforts to scale up or replicate those practices across the state
  • Convening gatherings and hosting training to bring together state and national experts and community participants
  • Identifying steps to improve the availability and quality of firearm data in Washington through information collection and data sharing.
  • Identifying and administering state, federal and private funding for grant programs focused on reducing firearm violence in Washington communities
  • Issuing a bi-annual report and policy recommendations to policymakers.

In the time since this statewide office was launched, OFSVP has made strategic investments in evidenced-based violence reduction strategies across the state. The office has collaborated closely with subject matter experts within the state and nationally to ensure our efforts are keeping up with unprecedented research and understanding of the causes of firearm violence and emerging strategies to achieve reductions.

OFSVP works hand-in-hand with policymakers, public health officials, government entities, law enforcement agencies, researchers, community organizations and individual community members. We prioritize building violence prevention and intervention capacity through engagement, outreach and technical assistance, and using data validated by our community partners to inform funding decisions.

OFSVP funds three types of violence reduction strategies: intervention, prevention and planning. 

  1. Intervention strategies are more immediate and interface with the populations and communities at highest risk for being victims or perpetrators of firearm violence. 
  2. Prevention strategies have a broader reach and touch at risk populations who may not yet – but could be anticipated to be – engaged in firearm violence. 
  3. Planning strategies are designed to bring community partners together to create and implement a plan for culturally-relevant, sustainable strategies that respond to specific local needs.

Examples of Emerging Intervention Strategies

Group violence intervention 

Interventions for groups of high-risk individuals designed to give a sense of community (e.g., Group Violence Intervention – National Network for Safe Communities);

Hospital-based violence intervention

Interventions taking place with gunshot victims that begin in hospitals but may continue after the victim leaves the hospital (e.g., The HAVI);

Violence interrupters 

Street outreach and violence interruption programs utilizing credible messengers working with individuals in high-risk areas (“hot spots”) within communities (e.g., Cure Violence, Operation Ceasefire); or

Outreach programs

Programs that specifically target at-risk youth for individual intervention (e.g., Chicago CRED, Safe and Successful Youth Initiative).

Collaborative Community-Driven Violence Reduction and Planning Models

Pilot projects

Intervention programs in early development and testing that are unique or specific to the community;

Program Expansion

Intervention and prevention programs that are ready for geographic or participant expansion;

Mentors

Intervention programs that include positive youth and young adult engagement, that are asset-based and focus on community and individual strengths;

Outreach workers 

Street outreach and violence interruption programs utilizing outreach workers with shared lived experience working with individuals in high-risk areas (“hot spots”) within communities;

Public health approaches

Interventions that include a wide range of experts to determine the problem, identify key risk factors, develop evidence-based policies and programs, and ensure effective implementation and evaluation; or

Data-driven programs

Programs that specifically target at-risk youth for individual intervention using data from partners which could include public, schools, law enforcement, or court systems.

OFSVP Support Pages

Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention

Resources

Contact

Kathleen Harvey, Acting Executive Director,
Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention
Email: Publicsafetyteam@Commerce.wa.gov
 

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Community Safety Programs