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Gun violence prevention symposium summary and videos

The Brown School organized a symposium on November 12, 2015 called Preventing Gun Violence: Evidence-based Optimism in a Realistic World as part of the university’s Gun Violence: A Public Health Crisis initiative.

University of Chicago professor and co-director of the university’s crime lab, Harold Pollack, PhD, provided the keynote address, which was followed by a facilitated discussion with panel of community leaders (including Col. Sam Dotson, chief of the St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department; Lyda Krewson, City of St. Louis Alderwoman; Bonita Jamison, Asst. Superintendent of Riverview Gardens; and Mariah Stewart, Reporter for the St. Louis American) and time for audience interaction and discussion.

Check out a photo album from the event.

The purpose of the event was to initiate a community dialogue about gun violence as a public health issue and to review research and evidence to inform prevention and response practices.

Attendees included students, faculty, and representatives from area nonprofit agencies as well as surrounding school districts and city and county court systems. All had the opportunity to contribute to the discussion by asking questions of the speaker and panelists and adding their thoughts in writing to sign boards asking “what do we need to know to prevent gun violence?” and “what do we need to do to prevent gun violence?”

Many of these comments, written on Post-it notes, revolved around programs and funding for youth interventions and partnerships with parents, teachers, and businesses to provide educational, recreational, and vocational opportunities for children and teenagers. “Engage in collaborative efforts on a community level,” suggested one note. Another suggested adding “mentoring programs in areas where violence occurs.”


Poli Rijos is the project coordinator of Washington University’s Gun Violence Initiative and helped to organize the event. She was pleased with the symposium’s attendance and overall quality of the discussion. “Dr. Pollack was able to present realistic interventions that may help reduce gun violence in our urban core,” Rijos said.

The Gun Violence Initiative project page has details on other upcoming activities and events in the St. Louis area, as well as a list of resources and funding opportunities available for related violence prevention projects.

View KMOV coverage of the event.