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'I'm tired of holding them as they die' | Proposed gun violence dashboard to gather data across Houston

Jul 21, 2023, 13:25 PM by Adam Bennett (KHOU*11)

HOUSTON — Houston city council members are considering a new strategy to prevent gun violence.

A proposed automated dashboard would pull gun violence stats from multiple sources into one central location. Leaders believe it would be the first of its kind in the country.

The Houston Health Department would run the dashboard. They compared the strategy to their COVID-19 response, where they collected large amounts of data - like wastewater testing and hospitalization and vaccination numbers.

They used that information to decide where to send resources and the best prevention strategies.

Now, with an increase in gun injuries since the pandemic, they hope to use a similar plan.

“Death from a firearm is now the leading cause of death in children," said Dr. Loren Hopkins with the Houston Health Department.

Health officials, city council members, police officers and trauma doctors gathered Thursday to discuss how to prevent both intentional and accidental shootings. 

“As a pediatric surgeon, I’m tired of seeing these children come in every day to the ER. I’m tired of holding them as they die and as they suffer," said Dr. Bindi Naik-Mathuria with the University of Texas Medical Branch.

City Council Member Abbie Kamin leads the public safety committee. She’s the one who proposed the automated gun violence injury dashboard. It would pull data from trauma centers, urgent care centers, the medical examiner, 911 calls and police records.

 “We have only one piece of the data," said Houston Police Department Assistant Chief Wyatt Martin. "We have what people tell us when they call 911. We have what victims tell us when they’re able to or willing to speak to us.”

Dr. Shiree Berry is the trauma medical director at a local hospital. She believes sharing data is key because many patients share information with doctors that they wouldn't otherwise share with police.

“Patients love to tell me all the details," Berry said. "With our partnership with the violence intervention program, we gather that information. It’s anonymous.”

The dashboard would cost around $120,000 per year, mostly to automate it. After two years, city leaders hope to have enough data to apply for grants to cover its costs.

The full City Council still needs to approve this plan before it gets started.

View the original article from KHOU here