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Prosecutors against gun violence meet in Miami.

Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle recently hosted 34 elected district attorneys from across the country in a national summit focusing on issues of mental health and gun violence.

United under the name, Prosecutors Against Gun Violence, the group seeks to advance policy solutions to the national public health and safety crisis that is gun violence.

"This challenge prompted us, as the prosecutors from 30 major cities, to form a broad coalition from around America to prevent violence and deaths involving guns, which too often are plaguing parts of our country," said Fernandez Rundle, adding the nonpartisan group focuses on issues such as reducing gang violence, weapons trafficking, the connection between domestic violence and gun violence, and the link between mental illness and gun violence.

Fernandez Rundle partnered with Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance, Jr., Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer, and community stakeholders to develop policies that can tackle the multi-faceted problem of gun violence affecting communities all across the nation.

"Our focus was to learn more about the intersection between mental health issues and gun violence," Fernandez Rundle said. "The national experts who participated in the various panels, many of them from the Miami area, discussed the importance of implementing best practices as they relate to mental health, criminal justice, and the reduction of gun violence."

Miami-Dade Judge Steve Leifman provided an overview of the national initiatives around the criminalization of mental illness. He also highlighted how the 11th Circuit's model was created to deal with the mentally ill in the criminal justice system.

Judge Leifman also moderated a panel that dealt with the development of trained police crisis intervention teams and the prosecutor's role in driving positive change.

The panel consisted of Dr. Charles Nemeroff, professor and chair at the University of Miami Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Dr. Spencer Eth, associate chief of staff for mental health at the Veterans Administration, and Miami-Dade Chief Assistant State Attorney Don Horn.

"The entire day was replete with national experts and valuable information," Fernandez Rundle said.

Other participants in the summit included David Keene, past president of the National Rifle Association, and Dr. Harold Schwartz, who as psychiatrist-in-chief and vice president of Behavioral Health at Harford Hospital's Institute of Living, was appointed by Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy to the Governor's Sandy Hook Advisory Commission following the Newtown mass murders.

"At the end of the event, all of the elected public officials in the room left with a better understanding of the dynamics of mental illness, violence, and possible paths to violence prevention," Fernandez Rundle said. "Miami-Dade's collaborative model was highlighted as a national model for possible replication across the country."

KATHERINE FERNANDEZ RUNDLE, the 11th Circuit's state attorney, hosted 34 elected district attorneys from across the country in a national summit focusing on issues of mental health and gun violence. The nonpartisan Prosecutors Against Gun Violence focuses on issues such as reducing gang violence, weapons trafficking, the connection between domestic violence and gun violence, and the link between mental illness and gun violence.
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Author:Rundle, Fernandez
Publication:Florida Bar News
Date:May 1, 2015
Words:505
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