CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – West Virginia has been awarded more than $1.7 million in funding to invest in community safety and reduce gun violence.

According to U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of West Virginia Will Thompson, the US Department of Justice has awarded the Mountain State a total of $1,755,887 through the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program and authorized by the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022.

According to Thompson, the West Virginia Division of Administrative Services’ Justice and Community Section applied for the award as the State Administrative Agency for criminal justice-related activities.

Thompson says the funds will go toward developing and staffing a West Virginia Crisis Intervention Advisory Board, which will help guide initiatives and programs throughout the state to reduce gun violence. Thompson says the goal is to comprise the board of representatives from courts, law enforcement, victim services, behavioral health providers, legal counsel, prosecutors and the community.

“This award will support a collaborative partnership with an overall goal of reducing gun-related violence throughout the state, including the Southern District of West Virginia,” Thompson said. “The funding will help the advisory board assess such evidence-based strategies as extreme risk protection order (ERPO) programs, behavioral health deflection, and drug, mental health, and veterans’ treatment courts.”

Thompson says the funds West Virginia is receiving are part of a larger, national investment of more than $231 million being administered through the Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program. According to Thompson, projects funded through the program need to prove that measures were taken to safeguard the constitutional rights of an individual who is subjected to crisis intervention programs.

The Byrne State Crisis Intervention Program was created through the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act of 2022 to provide formula funds to help states implement crisis intervention programs, initiatives and court proceedings, according to the DOJ’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. The Bureau says these can include, but are not limited to extreme risk protection order programs to keep those who pose a threat to themselves or others from possessing a gun, mental health courts, drug courts and veteran treatment courts.