City Council votes to approve $1M of emergency funding to combat violence

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — On Tuesday, Knoxville City Council unanimously approved $1 million dollars of emergency funding for violence prevention and interruption efforts. This following the recent deaths of three Austin-East students. Mayor Indya Kincannon vowed in a press conference last week that the city would take action.

“This surge in violence must stop and I know you all agree. This is not a political debate to win but an urgent crisis to resolve and the only way to do that is together and head on,” Kincannon said.

One million dollars of emergency funding was passed by city council Tuesday night in the unanimous vote.

“This budget amendment asks for your support to make sure we can move forward quickly on violence interruption and prevention programs that we know to be effective,” Kincannon said.

The mayor says this budget amendment was months in the making, and was set to be presented as a part of the regular budget, but with the way gun violence has increased, she fast-tracked the process.

“Because of the nature and urgency of this I’m bringing it to you now. I don’t want to wait until July 1 to stop the bleeding. I want to start tonight,” Kincannon said.

The funds will go toward programs that work with the community to reduce violence.

“This will complement and augment the ongoing efforts that have been going on in our city for years. Save Our Sons and now Empower Knox and many more partners in Knoxville have already begun the hard work of addressing root causes. Those will continue,” Kincannon explained.

Other resolutions passed Tuesday include possible funding for the Knoxville Police Department. City council voted to allow them to apply for two grants geared specifically toward combatting violence.

One is the Edward Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program Grant for $1 Million.

This grant is designed from priorities focusing on reducing serious and violent crime, including gun violence, dismantling gang activity and strengthening the local capacity to combat drug use,” said Police Chief Eve Thomas.

One of the contingencies of the Byrne grant is the department will have to use the money for those specific priorities Thomas mentioned. Thomas says if they were to receive it, the department would be checked by the creators of the grant on a quarterly basis to make sure the funds are being used properly.

They would receive the million dollars in increments over three years.

The second grant KPD can now apply for is the Internet Crimes Against Children grant in the amount of $1.2 million. This grant would provide funding for training and technology for detectives to fight internet crimes against children.

Now that the emergency budget amendment has been approved, the next steps will be figuring out exactly how that money will be distributed.

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