By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
Violence is a public health issue, even if it hasn’t always been viewed that way. For the past five years, Reggie Moore, director of the Office of Violence Prevention, has been working to make sure that the City of Milwaukee treats it as such.
Earlier this week, Moore announced he would be leaving the position at the end of the month to accept a new job at the Medical College of Wisconsin. According to the Journal Sentinel, he will be working as the director of violence prevention policy and engagement through the Comprehensive Injury Center.
Moore along with Mayor Tom Barrett and Health Commissioner Kirsten Johnson held a virtual press conference to discuss Moore’s departure and the city’s next steps on Monday, April 12.
“This definitely has been a journey,” Moore said. “There’s no job description that’s adequate enough to describe the depth of this role. I’m grateful to the city, to the mayor, to the Common Council, the various health commissioners over the years for providing this opportunity and also having the serious commitment to addressing violence as a public health issue.”
Under Moore’s leadership, the Office of Violence Prevention created the Blueprint for Peace document, which can be found on the city’s website at https://city.milwaukee.gov/414Life/Blueprint.
The ‘living’ document is designed to address the underlying factors that contribute to violence according to the website. Leaders, organizations and more are encouraged to use the Blueprint for Peace as a way to unroot both interpersonal and structural violence.
Moore also led the charge on 414Life.
Barrett noted that Moore will be missed, but that he will be continuing his work at the college. The Medical College of Wisconsin is committed to having a healthier community; like Moore, the college’s efforts include reducing violence and reaching people where they are at, Barrett said.
“Without a doubt the work Reggie has been doing throughout his entire career is going to continue, but through a different vantage point,” Barrett said, adding that Moore will continue to serve the people of his community.
The director position of the Office of Violence Prevention is an emotionally and physically taxing job, Barrett said. It’s a very difficult job, and Moore built a tremendous team and a strong foundation.
The Office of Violence Prevention team is powerful, Moore said. During his tenure, Moore expanded the team from two people to nine. When hiring people, Moore always told them two things: “There’s no greater manifestation of evil on earth than violence; this will not be an easy job. Second, one year at OVP is three.”
It’s challenging work, he said, but it has been an honor to serve the community.
Moore’s departure follows the recent departure of Lillian Paine and Griselle Torres. The two previously served as the chief of staff and deputy health commissioner for the Milwaukee Health Department respectively and departed at the request of Health Commissioner Johnson.
During the press conference, Moore said he wouldn’t be transitioning if he didn’t have full faith in the city, the mayor, the Common Council and so on.
Johnson said that while she is sad to see him go, she knows that this is an opportunity to further elevate his work.
The Mayor’s Office and the Milwaukee Health Department will be working together to fill the position.
“The thing that gives me the most pride is the fact that violence prevention has become a movement,” Moore said. “I think this is an issue that is deeply personal for everybody in our community.”
He added that everyone knows someone who has been impacted by violence and it can feel overwhelming, but the team’s work these past five years has elevated the issue to a movement. While he may be leaving the role, Moore stressed he is not leaving the movement.
“I think we’re on the pathway to transformation not only in how we’re talking about this issue but the types of solutions and ideas and advocacy that’s happening around making this city a stronger and safer place,” Moore said.