Reggie Moore Treats Violence as a Public Health Issue in New Role

Milwaukee’s former violence prevention czar spent the past year working outside of city government.

Reggie Moore wanted to expand the reach of his advocacy to treat violence as a public health issue – outside Milwaukee’s city government. 

Terri deRoon-Cassini, the director of the Medical College of Wisconsin’s Comprehensive Injury Center, wanted to make sure he didn’t do so outside of Milwaukee entirely.

So in May 2021, Moore left his work with the city and began a new chapter as the director of violence prevention policy and engagement for the center.

After being appointed to his previous post as director of the city’s Office of Violence Prevention in 2016, Moore grew that agency from two staff members to eight and quadrupled its annual budget to $2.1 million. He helped create Milwaukee’s first community-driven comprehensive violence prevention plan, Blueprint for Peace, expanded rapid response trauma services for young people and families, and launched 414LIFE, a program to reduce gun violence.


 

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But Moore, knowing that the devastating effects of violence aren’t unique to Milwaukee, wanted to expand the focus of his efforts to the state and national level. “My focus in Milwaukee had been hyperlocal,” he says.

He also wanted to work outside the confines of city politics. “When you are embedded in any governmental entity, there’s a level of politics,” Moore says. “I decided to come to the Medical College because of the ability to advocate for issues strictly from a public health perspective. We’re approaching this as an imperative that should be bipartisan and focused on saving lives. Anybody who is not about that is sustaining the violence that we are seeing.”

DeRoon-Cassini, a health psychologist, researcher and national leader in the treatment of survivors of trauma, set her sights on hiring Moore after she became director of the Comprehensive Injury Center in August 2020.

“Reggie, first and foremost, has a history of advocacy for disadvantaged communities that are overburdened by violence,” she says. “That brings more legitimacy to our center. He’s also an incredible strategist. The center, since its inception, has been focused on public health approaches to injury prevention. Reggie has considerable expertise in that area.”

Knowing Moore was being eyed for national jobs, deRoon-Cassini says she worked quickly to secure funding for the position. “So many of us didn’t want to see him leave this community,” she says. “He’s such an asset.”

Now with Moore’s leadership, the center is working to provide critical information to Wisconsin communities and organizations engaged in violence prevention and to more effectively direct resources to areas disproportionately impacted by violence.

Moore believes collaboration is needed to make communities across the state safer by developing and engaging in a violence prevention plan that addresses rising drug overdoses, homicides and nonfatal shootings – all of which have worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“We have to work smarter and take a more humane approach, understanding that it has been decisions, policies, conditions and structure, including structural racism and divestment from cities, that have created the conditions for harm to occur,” Moore says. “It’s not the people that are bad; it’s the conditions.” 


Listen to WUWM’s “Lake Effect” April 27 at Noon to hear more about this story. 


 

This story is part of Milwaukee Magazine‘s April issue.

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Rich Rovito is a freelance writer for Milwaukee Magazine.