New Jersey’s innovative programs work to reduce and prevent community violence
For Immediate Release: January 19, 2024
Office of the Attorney General
– Matthew J. Platkin, Attorney General
Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance
– Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director
TRENTON – Governor Phil Murphy and Attorney General Matthew J. Platkin announced today that an additional $3 million in federal Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funds have been made available through a notice of funding to support New Jersey’s Trauma Recovery Center (TRC) Program. With this latest round of funding, the State has now passed a threshold of $100+ million dedicated to violence intervention programming.
This milestone underscores the commitment of Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin to pursue innovative, community-based approaches to reduce violent crime and end cycles of violence. Beginning in 2019, over $100 million has been allocated to the following programs:
- $45.5 million in state and federal funds for the Hospital-Based Violence Intervention Program (HVIP), which supports hospitals in partnership with community-based victim service providers to connect crime victims with services starting at the hospital bedside;
- $40 million in state and federal funds for the Community-Based Violence Intervention (CBVI) Program funding services in communities most impacted by gun violence, with targeted programs that include street interventions led by credible messengers who de-escalate conflicts before violence occurs; and
- $15 million in federal funds to establish the TRC program to address the unique needs of crime survivors and the long-term effects of prolonged exposure to violence, helping survivors navigate healing in the aftermath of trauma.
This transformational approach to public safety is working: on January 4, 2024, Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin announced that for the first time since the State began tracking shooting statistics in 2009, the number of people shot in New Jersey fell below 1,000. Building on a 25 percent reduction in the number of shooting victims in 2022, the number of shooting victims in 2023 dropped an additional 13 percent with 924 people shot.
“This landmark investment reflects our Administration’s priority of reducing crime in our communities,” said Governor Murphy. “Last year, New Jersey saw a historic decrease in gun violence since comprehensive tracking began in 2009, which is evidence that initiatives like the Trauma Recovery Center and other violence intervention programs are working. As we continue on the road to zero shootings per year, we will continue to make community-based investments like these to protect every New Jerseyan from gun violence.”
“I am proud that with the announcement today of additional funding for our Trauma Recovery Center program we have surpassed $100 million in support of innovative violence intervention strategies,” said Attorney General Platkin. “The investments that we have made over the last five years underscore our commitment to reducing violent crime and gun violence by including community-based, trauma-informed responses at the heart of our efforts. Thanks to the leadership, dedication, and support of Governor Murphy, we are providing the resources needed to make public safety a shared mission between the community and law enforcement.”
In September 2022, Attorney General Platkin created the New Jersey Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA) to oversee the State’s commitment to providing resources for victim services, placing a particular emphasis on enhancing services to underserved communities in an effort to break the cycle of repeat victimization. VIVA’s Office of Violence Intervention and Prevention provides an infrastructure to community violence intervention organizations. These programs operate in the cities, neighborhoods, and on the blocks that are most likely to experience violence, focusing on the individuals at highest risk for violence and victimization, and are led by credible messengers who are trained in evidence-informed practices. In October 2023, Acting Governor Tahesha Way signed A-4978/S-3086 into law as P.L. 2023, c.167, codifying VIVA within the Department of Law and Public Safety.
“Allocating a portion of New Jersey’s VOCA funding to support Trauma Recovery Centers complements the investments New Jersey has made in supporting a growing portfolio of innovative, multidisciplinary public safety initiatives, like Community- and Hospital-Based Violence Intervention programs,” said Patricia Teffenhart, Executive Director of VIVA. “And with $100 million committed to these programs, Governor Murphy and Attorney General Platkin have shown New Jersey to be a national model in empowering communities to break cycles of violence to increase public safety.”
The TRC funding period announced today will begin on April 1, 2024 and last through March 31, 2025. Eligible applicants may apply for a maximum of $750,000 per project for a 12-month grant period. Additional information on the TRC program, including application documents, can be found here: https://www.njoag.gov/resources/grant-opportunities
The Division of Violence Intervention and Victim Assistance (VIVA) serves as Attorney General Platkin’s lead entity for victim assistance and violence intervention and prevention services within the Department of Law and Public Safety. Among its range of responsibilities is creating a statewide infrastructure for victim assistance and violence intervention and prevention services, and supporting the development of new initiatives and strategies in those areas. VIVA provides resources and support to community-based organizations that offer these services and helps develop a statewide strategy for the growth and standardization of services.