The city of Southfield, through a proclamation from Mayor Ken Siver, declared June 4 Wear Orange National Gun Violence Awareness Day. More than 150 key buildings and landmarks in the city turned orange in support.

The city of Southfield, through a proclamation from Mayor Ken Siver, declared June 4 Wear Orange National Gun Violence Awareness Day. More than 150 key buildings and landmarks in the city turned orange in support.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes

Southfield police chief discusses Gun Violence Awareness Day

By: Jacob Herbert | Southfield Sun | Published June 9, 2021

SOUTHFIELD — The city of Southfield has joined the rest of the United States in declaring June 4 National Gun Violence Awareness Day.

In a May 24 City Council meeting, Southfield Mayor Ken Siver presented a proclamation that stated the day was to be observed by wearing orange to promote awareness and education on gun violence in America.

“This is something that we have done for a number of years along with other anti-gun-violence activities,” Siver said. “We’re not taking an anti-gun stance, but we just want people to remain safe, secure their weapons and think carefully before they use them, especially when we’re talking about people who are innocent victims because someone is reckless with firing a weapon.”

While June 4 is the day that is set aside to bring awareness to the issue of gun violence, Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren said his department’s attention to guns and gun violence is continuous and ongoing. As a result of this ongoing fight, the Police Department has sponsored several events as a way to educate the public.

On March 7, the department held an event called Love Our Kids, Lock Your Guns, a free gun lock giveaway where the Police Department was able to give away over 400 free gun locks to members of the community. Barren said gun locks are still available at the police station’s front desk if any residents would still like one.

Barren has also spoken to local elementary, middle and high school students about gun safety. One particular talk was given to the students of Pattengill Elementary School in Berkley.

“We all know that children are curious when it comes to guns from when they watch TV and play video games,” Barren said. “My message to those students was that if they see guns unattended, not to touch them and get a hold of a parent, guardian or school administrator. I explained to them the dangers associated with handling weapons.”

Barren said the students made him a promise to never touch guns, and if they ever saw one unattended, to tell an adult.

In the city of Southfield alone, per the Police Department’s records, the police have come into contact with 165 guns between June 1, 2020, and June 1, 2021. Of those 165 guns, 118 were confiscated as a result of arrests or as evidence from a crime, 37 were found by residents and turned in to the station, and 10 were stolen weapons that were recovered. 

When it comes to crimes in progress that involve guns, the Police Department lists those incidents as a high priority every time, with police arriving on the scene a matter of minutes after the call comes in. The department then holds case reviews on the incidents to make sure they are doing all that they can to make sure that cases don’t slip through the cracks.

“Calls for services to us where a gun or any weapon is described as part of the call, it is listed as a high priority for this Police Department. We respond very quickly. We have a response time of three to five minutes,” Barren said. “We attribute that to the success that we’ve had with these calls of getting there very early before things escalated, particularly with domestic violence and other argument-based calls for service, where a gun is described to be a part of the incident.”

In offering advice to gun owners, Barren said the proper handling and storage of a gun is of the utmost importance. The chief encouraged gun owners to make sure guns are properly stored in a safe out of the reach of children. Weapons should also be stored with a gun lock that will prevent a child from firing the gun, should it fall into their hands.

“I applaud Chief Barren and all of our officers for their efforts in community policing,” Siver said. “It’s not just about law enforcement, it’s about education and dialogue between the community and the Police Department. Not only regarding gun violence, but traffic stops, drug overdoses and domestic violence, our Police Department is out in the community, and I think that’s one of the reasons that we have a high level of support in Southfield for the Police Department.”