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 in communities across Washington with a goal of better understanding and reducing firearm violence.
OFSVP works hand-in-hand with policymakers, public health officials, government entities, law enforcement agencies, researchers, community organizations and individual community members. We prioritize investment in underserved, historically disadvantaged and vulnerable communities, building violence prevention and intervention capacity through engagement, outreach and technical assistance, and using data validated by our community partners to inform funding decisions.
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
- Identify 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
Since the office was launched, OFSVP has distributed grant funds in communities throughout Washington state, supporting local efforts to prevent and intervene in firearm violence. Among other things, we have learned that the most effective solutions to crime and violence come from the community and that there is a tremendous appetite at the community level to engage in collaboration to keep neighborhoods and families safer. We have also learned that violence intervention and prevention efforts work best when we partner with law enforcement and other system partners.
The OFSVP grant programs respond to these lessons learned, respecting the unique needs of our communities and using intentional and coordinated investments to expand violence prevention and intervention capacity throughout the state.
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- Using state funding, OFSVP intervention grants include support for:
- Harborview Medical Center’s hospital-based intervention program is designed to connect firearm violence victims with services.
- The Walk about Yakima Program, provides services to high-risk youth and adults.
- The City of Tacoma’s expansion of the Neighborhood and Community Services Department’s service delivery to youth and young adults.
- Community Passageways’ service to youth and young adults in the BIPOC community at high risk for or involved in gun violence in South King County.
- BIPOC Apostrophe which is building strong partnerships with the cities of Federal Way, Kent and Renton sharing information related to firearms and data related to gangs and other groups involved in firearm-related crimes.
- Funding to support community-based violence intervention services to individuals referred through the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office shots fired social network analysis of firearm violence in King County. Programs supported include:
- To better ensure the success of the supported intervention efforts, OFSVP has contracted with researchers and consultants to provide technical assistance, training and evaluation services. Supporting organizations and services include:
- Family-integrated transition services through the University of Washington Public Behavioral Health and Justice Policy Division
- Evidence based reporting from and evaluations of the funded programs by the University of Washington Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program
- Technical assistance, capacity building and coaching from Evidence Based Associates.
- Through the Healthy Youth Violence Prevention Initiative, OFSVP has provided state funding to Virginia Mason ChiFranciscian to expand their existing Pierce County violence prevention efforts into south King County through subcontracts to deliver street outreach, youth employment and pre-apprenticeship programs, case management, and behavioral health services. Virginia Mason ChiFranciscian has partnered with thirteen community-based organizations to provide services to youth/young adults.
- Through the Yakima Valley Gang Violence Project OFSVP has provided funding to the Northwest Communities Education Center and Radio KDNA to convene a consortium to develop and implement strategies for the prevention of youth gang violence in Yakima County in the communities of Grandview, Sunnyside, Granger, Toppenish, and Wapato.
- The Community Law Enforcement Partnership program fosters community engagement through neighborhood organizing, law enforcement and community partnerships, youth mobilization, and business engagement.
- Through the Healthy Youth Initiative, OFSVP has entered into grants with three community-based organizations in Pierce County (Tacoma Boat Builders), Yakima County (OIC Washington), and the City of Vancouver (Community Mediation Services). Each of these groups is leading an effort to convene a multi-disciplinary planning team to prepare a strategic action plan for future youth violence intervention and prevention programming in their communities. To encourage success, OFSVP has contracted separately with a technical assistance coach to help the planning teams work through challenges they might encounter.
- Research has shown that firearm violence is concentrated within small, identifiable social networks and the closer a person is to a victim or perpetrator of firearm violence, the more likely they are to be a victim of firearm violence themselves. Social network analysis (SNA) can allow law enforcement agencies and community partners to use the information to focus violence prevention and intervention strategies where they are needed most. King County and the City of Yakima have used these techniques to address the spread of gun violence. OFSVP has engaged a consultant, Maike and Associates, to lead a project to review the operations and outcomes of the current use of social network analysis in Washington and nationally, and to make recommendations as to how OFSVP can support and expand the use of social network analysis to reduce in firearm violence in communities across the state.
Improving the effectiveness of Washington’s protection order laws
The State Crisis Intervention Program is designed to assist state, local, and tribal efforts to prevent or reduce crime and violence, with a particular focus on gun violence and the implementation of extreme risk protection orders in particular. This federal opportunity provides our state with a timely and badly needed opportunity to improve on current efforts to mitigate firearm-related risks through improved use of court orders that prohibit firearm possession by individuals who present a heightened risk of harm. Learn more about the implementation of this program in Washington here.
A data-driven approach to reducing gun violence
You can’t fix what you don’t measure. Data is crucial for communities, researchers and policymakers to understand and mitigate firearm violence. Robust data can provide a foundation for improving evidence-based policymaking. Setting out the data responsibilities of OFSVP, the Legislature directed Commerce to:
- Work with law enforcement agencies, county prosecutors, researchers, and public health agencies throughout the state to identify and improve upon available data sources, data collection methods, and data-sharing mechanisms; and
- Identify gaps in available data needed for ongoing analysis, policy development, and implementation of evidence-based firearm violence intervention and prevention strategies.
OFSVP has partnered with researchers from the University of Washington Firearm Injury and Policy Research Program to compile an inventory and descriptions of existing sources of Washington firearms-related data. The inventory identifies 31 data sources in three main categories: health and healthcare, criminal justice, and firearm-related licensing and sales data. Go to our Tableau Public Dashboard for more information.
Through this early work, we have learned that — while many public health and public safety agencies track data related to firearms, firearm-related injuries and fatalities, and violent crime — that data is often collected and only accessible in silos.
Moving forward, OFSVP will continue to engage with the owners and users of firearm-related data systems to explore and identify steps to improve the availability and quality of firearm data in Washington through information collection and data sharing. As we bridge barriers created by traditional boundaries of local and state agencies, we must recognize and respect sensitivities surrounding the data, including health, law enforcement or other confidentialities.
Mapping community gun violence
Researchers have identified specific evidence-based practices to reduce community firearm violence. Different strategies have been developed to address other forms of firearm violence, including suicide and domestic violence. Data is crucial for helping identify which communities are experiencing higher rates of homicides. The office will work with those communities to coordinate and help implement evidence-based prevention strategies.
Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention
- University of Washington Firearm Injury & Policy Research Program
- Gun Violence, King County
- The State of Gun Violence in Washington, Giffords Law Center, 2021
- Crime Victim Resources
- National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College
- National Gun Violence Archive
- Investing in Intervention: the Critical Role of State-Level Support | Giffords
- Gun Violence Resource Hub
- The BulletPoints Project
- Inventory of Firearm Data for Washington state
- Everytown – The One Thing You Can Do Resource
- ATF National Firearms Commerce and Trafficking Assessment – Crime Guns
- ATF National Firearms Commerce and Trafficking – WA Crime Guns Data Report
- RAND Study, Gun Policy in America
- King County Gun Violence Data – Crime Strategies Unit
- Firearm Suicide Prevention & Lethal Means Safety – REACH
- End Family Fire
Office of Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention
Community Safety Programs
OFSVP Advisory Committee Members
- Sarah Augustine, Dispute Resolution centers and Walk About Yakima
- Devitta Briscoe, Gun Violence Prevention Liaison, City of Seattle
- Dan Carew, Deputy Prosecuting Attorney, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office
- Gregory Engel, MD, Board Member, Washington CeaseFire
- Shalisa Hayes, Violence Prevention activist, Community leader
- Renee Hopkins, CEO, Alliance for Gun Responsibility
- Deepika Nehra, MD – Associate Program Director, Trauma/Surgical Critical Care Fellowship, Associate Faculty Member, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center
- Melanie-Angela Neuilly, Ph.D., Associate Professor and Chair, Criminal Justice and Criminology, Washington State University
- Laura Prater, Ph.D., MPH, MHA, Acting Assistant Professor, Dep’t of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Program Director, Research Translation, Harborview Injury Prevention and Research Center, School of Medicine, University of Washington
- Donnitta Sinclair, Gun violence prevention activist, Community member
- Steve Strachan, Executive Director, Washington Association of Sheriffs and Police Chiefs
- Cheryl Stumbo, Manager of the Everytown Survivor Network, survivor of the 2006 Seattle Jewish Federation shooting
- Sarah Sumadi, Associate Regional Director, Everytown for Gun Safety
- Eric Trupin, Ph.D., Psychologist and Professor of University of Washington Psychiatry and Behavioral Science