Montgomery DA’s Office Introducing Initiative to Lower Homicides & Counsel Youth

Several Montgomery agencies are coming together to lower the homicide rate in Montgomery and help at-risk youth. So far, Montgomery has recorded 59 homicides this year, a number much higher than past years.

The Helping Montgomery Families Initiative, or H.M.F.I, was established in 2008, working to help students get back on track who continuously are suspended from school.

Now that fatal crime is nearing a record high this year in Montgomery, officials see the need to help children recover from traumatic events, and are  implementing a solution: “We can sit here being reactive all day long, but guess what? The problem is going to continue, so we’ve got to be proactive,” District Attorney Daryl Bailey said.

Montgomery has seen 59 murders so far this year, a number District Attorney Daryl Bailey calls ‘completely unacceptable.’ That’s why the Helping Montgomery Families Initiative out of the district attorney’s office is teaming with the Montgomery Police Department, Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, Montgomery Public Schools, Montgomery County Commission, The City of Montgomery and professional counselors to offer families resources after traumatic events.

“Imagine these kids in their homes then gunshots ring out,” Bailey said. “Their home is shot into multiple times. A close relative inside the residence is shot multiple times”

… Shots that D.A. Bailey says ring through children’s minds for months, sometimes even years, resulting in bad behavior and unhealthy cycles continuing.

The plan for the new Opendoors program is to offer counseling services to youth who have witnessed or been a part of a shooting. The DA’s Office’s trained investigators and therapists will go to crime scenes and canvas the area for anyone under age 18. They will then assess the child and family to determine their needs. Next, a follow up within 72 hours and an additional canvas, looking for any other children who may have experienced trauma related to the recent event. Lastly, H.M.F.I. will reach out to Montgomery Public Schools to notify them that a student has experienced trauma.

“After we have identified a child who is being treated for trauma in our program, a staff member from our Helping Montgomery Families Initiative is going to call a designated person with the school system at the child’s school,” Bailey said. “They’re going to say the child’s name and simply the words ‘handle with care.’

“They live in this experience day in and day out,” Montgomery Police Chief Ernest Family explained. “Somehow we’ve got to relieve them. Somehow we’ve got to show them another way of life, and through counseling, through all of that I think it is very important because we want the families and young scholars to be successful.”

Counseling services will be provided to children either inside of their personal home or a professional setting depending on the family’s preferences. The Opendoors program aims to be proactive by helping manage trauma in children, paving healthy futures and reducing deadly crime. The program also has resources for adults who need help coping with trauma from shootings.


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