Haverhill State Delegation Helps Secure $10M in Funding to Combat Gun Violence

(Jay Saulnier file photograph for WHAV News)

Several Haverhill-based Beacon Hill policymakers helped secure $10 million in state funding to create a new task force to combat local gun violence, it was announced Tuesday.

State Reps. Andy Vargas, Linda Dean Campbell and Diana DiZoglio were among the 40 lawmakers that petitioned Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo and House Ways and Means Chairman Jeffrey Sanchez for $20 million to be allocated to anti-violence efforts back in January, and this week, found out their efforts netted $10 million for the cause.

“Communities across Massachusetts have long felt the effects of gun violence—especially with our youth who are out of the school system. I’m proud that the legislature continues to lead with a holistic approach to solving this public health crisis by focusing efforts both inside and outside of the classroom,” Vargas said.

Once funds are authorized, the Department of Public Health plans to form the Neighborhood-Based Gun and Violent Crime Prevention pilot program, aimed at providing mental health and outreach services to proven-risk youth aged 17-24. A need-based grant application process will follow, Vargas’ office said.

Since January, Haverhill has been the location of six reported shootings—two of them fatal, resulting in the deaths of city men Jeffrey Larkin and Nike Colon. As WHAV reported in September, alleged gang member Elijah Oliver slipped a loaded handgun past police after being pat-frisked during his arrest on firearms charges. After arriving to the Bailey Boulevard police station, Officer Penny Portalla located the gun in the rear door pocket of the cruiser she used to transport a handcuffed Oliver after he was placed under arrest at his Lowell Avenue home.