Last Updated: Mar 31st, 2014 - 14:20:42


Area police chief chosen to join Obama's gun violence task force
By Sarah Steele Wilson, Newsroom Editor
Dec 28, 2012, 16:10

contributed photo Dixon said the Dec. 20 meeting was serious. The task force will meet to draft ideas in January.

When the Gun Violence Task Force established by President Barack Obama in the wake of the December 14 mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School meets again in January, Petersburg Police Chief John Dixon, III will be at the table.

The panel first met on Dec. 20.

“It was a very serious, very focused approach to it,” Dixon said, describing that first meeting.

Obama asked Vice President Joe Biden, who championed the 1994 Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act, which included the federal assault weapons ban lifted in 2004, to work with law enforcement experts to develop “concrete proposals” for curbing gun violence by the time they meet again in January.

With the nation still reeling from the shooting rampage that left six adults and 20 young children dead at the Newtown, Conn. school, Obama pledged to tackle gun violence with proposals that would be used to combat what he acknowledged is a complicated issue.

“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said the day before the panel first met.

Dixon was chosen to participate as the first vice president of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.

“They were very serious about the tone, they wanted to get down to business, they wanted to push politics aside and actually discuss some real things that would help reduce some of this violence throughout the country,” Dixon said.

Dixon said that Biden, Attorney General Eric Holder and cabinet members Arne Duncan, Janet Napolitano, and Kathleen Sebelius spent over three hours at the table with law enforcement leaders from across the country.

“It was clearly stated he wanted to hear some real solutions to these problems,” Dixon said.

Although similar mass shooting tragedies in the past have also sparked discussions about gun control, Dixon said that this time, the tone is different.

“This was not a political approach to it, because the people who were pulled in were not pulled in because of their political associations,” he said. “They were pulled in because of their representation of law enforcement, both local, state and federal.”

Dixon he and other law enforcement representatives are currently gathering information and developing ideas to send to and discuss with the task force when it meets next month. Dixon said he encourages area residents to contact him with their ideas on gun violence.

“This is a national issue,” he said. “It’s not specific to law enforcement, it’s not specific to any political party, it’s specific to us within the country, in how do we stop some of these horrific things from happening like the incident in Connecticut.”

After a Thursday morning press conference on his membership on the task force, Dixon said he was sorting through emails and phone calls from local people and starting to return the calls to document suggestions.

Through NOBLE, Dixon has been discussing ideas with law enforcement leaders throughout the country and wants to hear from law enforcement in the localities surrounding Petersburg.

“We will reach out to anybody who’s interested in having some input in this and see if we can craft something that will represent as broad an opinion as we can for this solution,” he said.

Dixon can be reached at (804) 732-4222 or jdixon@petersburg-police.com.

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