Reggie Moore leaving Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention

The head of the city’s violence prevention office is leaving his post to take a newly-created position at a locally-based violence research and prevention center next month.

Reggie Moore, who has served as director of the Office of Violence Prevention since 2016, announcing in an email to city leaders Sunday night he will be stepping down from the position he’s held for five years and join the Comprehensive Injury Center (CIC) at the Medical College of Wisconsin as its Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement in May.

Reggie Moore

Reggie Moore

"Now is the time for me to pass the baton in my role as Director of OVP and focus on advancing this fight at the state and national level," Moore said in an email obtained by FOX6. "In this capacity, I will continue to work closely with the city’s Office of Violence Prevention while also working to advance violence prevention as a public health priority throughout the state."

Moore’s work will be under that of Dr. Terri deRoon Cassini, an associate professor at the college and director of the CIC.

The OVP, created in 2008, uses a public health-based approach to reduce violence in the city through partnerships with government, non-profit, neighborhood and faith-based groups. Moore, who previously served as the head of the Center for Youth Engagement for more than three years, was appointed by Mayor Tom Barrett to lead the OVP in April 2016.

Reggie Moore

Reggie Moore

"Five years ago today, I entered City Hall to take on one of the biggest challenges facing our city, country, and humanity," wrote Moore. "There is no job description that can truly prepare you for this role. Violence is an intractable problem as old as civilization itself. Any effort to challenge or prevent that harm requires a level of vision, focus, and determination to see possibility and pain through the same eyes without losing hope."

In a press conference Monday afternoon Moore called his time at the OVP a "journey" and one of his most proud accomplishments is the city's "Milwaukee Blueprint for Peace," which looks at ways to address the myriad of factors that drive violence in the city. But considering the physical, emotional and mental toll one faces in a position that puts you face-to-face with the physical and emotional trauma of violence on a daily basis, Moore says one year is more like three.

"It’s been some of the most challenging, but almost some of the most important work that I’ve done in my life. And it’s been an honor and a privilege to serve my community and, as the mayor said, I will continue to do that in my role at the Medical College (of Wisconsin) with the Comprehensive Injury Center (CIC) under the leadership of Dr. Terri deRoon-Cassini," said Moore.  "This is an ‘all hands on deck’ effort. Although I am leaving a role, I am not leaving the movement. And it really is an elevation of this movement, both on a state and a national level."

Moore and deRoon-Cassini pointing to recent proposals at the national level push community investments in violence prevention efforts.

"From a timing standpoint, this position is supported not only by the Medical College of Wiconsin but an investment by Advancing a Healthier Wisconsin to develop a new division of violence prevention within our comprehensive injury center," said deRoon-Cassini. "It’s the right time. Really excited about the impact that we can continue to have in our partnership with the city, to elevate the heatlh of residents of our city, as well as having an impact at the state and the national level."

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Common Council President Cavalier Johnson calling Moore's appointment in 2016 a "godsend."

"He has blazed a trail in making OVP a truly dynamic and nationally respected agency bent on proactively reducing violence and homicides in our city," Johnson said in a statement congratulating Moore on his new position at MCW. "On behalf of the City I tip my hat to Reggie and thank him sincerely for the important work he’s done and for the leadership he has displayed."

The OVP has nine staff, which will lead the office in Moore's absence, as Barrett works with Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson on filling the role.

"I think no mere mortal could do (the job of leading the Office of Violence Prevention). This is an incredibly emotionally taxing, physically taxing job. And it’s a very difficult job. But he’s got a tremendous team," said Barrett, adding Moore built a very strong foundation to build upon. "I will be in consultation with (Health) Commissioner (Kirsten) Johnson. I’ve already begun having conversations about individuals. I’ve talked to a few individuals. So we will be having an announcement – not today, this is Reggie’s day to celebrate."

Johnson adding that while her and Moore's time overlapped for a short period, she intends to continue the work of the OVP and is sad to see Moore go.

"But (I) understand this is an opportunity to elevate his work to a much higher level, while continuing to contribute to the important work in Milwaukee," said Johnson. "I want to reassure the city, the mayor’s office and Reggie that the role of OVP within the health department is incredibly important to me and I have every intention of upholding the work and continuing to embrace the team and what they contribute, the meaningful work they continue to contribute."

Moore points to the city's blueprint for peace and the now nine-person office of violence prevention, along with community partners like the violence interrupters at 414Life, as a solid foundation for whoever steps into the role of continuing the work addressing the myriad of social, economic, and health factors that contribute to violence in the city.

"We want everyone to understand we have a responsibility to keep our community, our state and our cities safe. But, again, we have to advocate for that together."

And Milwaukee Office of Violence Prevention Director Reggie Moore says his advocacy will continue in may when he steps into the new role of director of violence prevention policy and engagement at the Medical College of Wisconsin's Comprehensive Injury Center.

"My focus is continuing to be a support to the movement, and help other cities. Whether it be Racine, Madison and others as they build out their offices of violence prevention, or develop violence prevention plans. Because, again, violence effects every corner of this state," he said.

Moore says he had three job offers, two of them nationally, but knew that sticking close to his home, the city that he loves, was the best way to continue to be an advocate for bringing about change.

"If we’re not willing to invest on the front end – again a quality education or after-school programs, or supports – and we only care about young people when they’re in trouble, then young people are going to continue to get in trouble," he said.

Moore says the pandemic has laid bare long-standing inequities, which has, in turn, made the work harder. That said, it has also shown that breaking the cycles that perpetuate violence, like poverty or healthcare, is possible.

"The greatest form of violence prevention is that if people have what they need to survive, and have what they need to thrive, they’re less likely to harm themselves or other people," Moore said.

Moore will start at the CIC on May 2.

Text of Moore letter to Milwaukee Common Council

April 11, 2021

Dear Council Members,

Five years ago today, I entered City Hall to take on one of the biggest challenges facing our city, country, and humanity. There is no job description that can truly prepare you for this role. Violence is an intractable problem as old as civilization itself. Any effort to challenge or prevent that harm requires a level of vision, focus, and determination to see possibility and pain through the same eyes without losing hope. It requires you to provide comfort to families while navigating your own grief for the injury or death of their loved one. It demands showing up in the middle of a pandemic to ensure that people can mourn, protest, and heal in the safest way possible, while putting your own health at risk. It demands that you put the best interest of public health above politics and requires you to be surrounded by a fearless team of talented individuals who embody the true meaning of public service. These are the people who work in public health and these are the people I have been blessed to serve with during my entire tenure as Director of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP).

As we continue to work collectively to recover from the pandemic, efforts to address violence as a public health issue have gained unprecedented support from the President of the United States. Last week, the Biden-Harris administration announced plans to take executive action that will result in historic levels of investment and policy change to address shootings, mental health, and domestic violence throughout this country. Due to efforts over the past five years, Milwaukee is strongly positioned to leverage these investments to scale its Blueprint for Peace and advance strategies like 414 LIFE.

I have decided the that now is the time for me to pass the baton in my role as Director of OVP and focus on advancing this fight at the state and national level. Effective May 3, 2021 I will be joining the Comprehensive Injury Center at the Medical College of Wisconsin as its first Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement under the leadership of Dr. Terri deRoon Cassini. In this capacity, I will continue to work closely with the city’s Office of Violence Prevention while also working to advance violence prevention as a public health priority throughout the state. My work will ultimately be based out of the ThriveOn King space in Harambee.

Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention has become a nationally respected entity that our city should be proud of and continue to protect and elevate.

I am deeply honored and grateful for those that have walked this journey with me. OVP would not have grown as strong or as quickly as it has over the years without your support, leadership, and engagement. Although I am leaving this role, I am not leaving the movement. I remain committed to our city, our community, and grateful that the future of the Office of Violence Prevention is in good hands. The struggle most certainly continues. Thank you for the opportunity.

Forever, in gratitude and service.

Reggie Moore

Statement from Milwaukee Common Council President Cavalier Johnson

"Five years ago the Mayor appointed Reggie Moore to lead the Office of Violence Prevention within the Milwaukee Health Department. It would be Reggie’s role to lead the effort to reduce deadly violence and to implement programming and resources to actively promote peace in Milwaukee on behalf of the City.

"Quite frankly, Reggie’s appointment to that role has been a godsend, as he has blazed a trail in making OVP a truly dynamic and nationally respected agency bent on proactively reducing violence and homicides in our city. As he now prepares to leave to become the first Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement at the Medical College of Wisconsin, on behalf of the City I tip my hat to Reggie and thank him sincerely for the important work he’s done and for the leadership he has displayed.

"Reggie’s work in bringing together the 414LIFE violence interrupters and in crafting the Blueprint for Peace has been outstanding, and he will be sorely missed as he’s been a vitally important asset to the City.

"In part, in his letter to the Council announcing his departure, Reggie wrote: "There is no job description that can truly prepare you for this role. Violence is an intractable problem as old as civilization itself. Any effort to challenge or prevent that harm requires a level of vision, focus, and determination to see possibility and pain through the same eyes without losing hope. It requires you to provide comfort to families while navigating your own grief for the injury or death of their loved one. It demands showing up in the middle of a pandemic to ensure that people can mourn, protest, and heal in the safest way possible, while putting your own health at risk. It demands that you put the best interest of public health above politics and requires you to be surrounded by a fearless team of talented individuals who embody the true meaning of public service."

"Thank you again, Reggie, for helping to provide much needed hope and for your distinguished work as a true public servant."

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