For Immediate Release
June 24, 2014
For More Information Contact:
Mayor's Press Office
From Anti Human Trafficking Initiatives to Efforts to Combat Substance Abuse, Mayor Walsh joined White House Officials and Mayors from all over the Nation to Address Critical Issues Facing the City of Boston and the Northern Region
BOSTON—Mayor Martin J. Walsh joined 1,300 mayors from across the country at the United States Conference of Mayors (USCM) Annual Meeting in Dallas, at which all of his resolutions – urging the White House and Congress to pass legislation and create national taskforces for gun safety, anti-human trafficking efforts, and substance abuse prevention – were unanimously passed by the Standing Committee.
“This is about forging strong alliances across this country; every neighborhood, every race and religion, every woman, man, and child – we’re all in this together,” said Mayor Walsh. “Collaboration at a regional, national, and even global scale is a central component of my administration’s agenda. This is how we approach serious issues impacting the City of Boston and surrounding communities and become transformative leaders.”
While at the conference, Mayor Walsh attended sessions on educational excellence, criminal and social justice, early childhood education, employment, community development and housing, travel and tourism priorities, and minority business development.
Background Checks for All Gun Sales
Mayor Walsh requested USCM urge passage of important public safety legislation in Congress which would require a background check for every gun sale, and which would also increase the reporting of mental health and other relevant records into the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS) database.
Currently, a loophole in federal law allows criminals, domestic abusers, and the severely mentally ill to avoid background checks by buying firearms from unlicensed “private sellers" – often at gun shows or through anonymous online transactions – who are not required by federal law to conduct them. An estimated 6.6 million guns are transferred each year by unlicensed "private sellers" who are not required to conduct background checks under federal law.
Support for this resolution was garnered from nine mayors, including: Stephanie Rawlings-Blake of Baltimore, MD; Rahm Emanuel of Chicago, IL; Pedro Segarra of Hartford, CT; Bill de Blasio of New York City, NY; Michael Brennan of Portland, ME; Angel Taveras of Providence, RI; Francis Slay of St. Louis, MO; Ed Murray of Seattle, WA; and Jonathan Rothschild of Tucson, AZ.
Comprehensive Demand Enforcement and Prevention to Combat Human Trafficking
Mayor Walsh and Mayor Michael Hancock of Denver, CO, called on USCM to urge Congress to swiftly pass the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act (S. 1738/H.R. 3530), and work with the Obama Administration and Congress to combat commercial sexual exploitation of vulnerable children and adults, and mitigate the associated public safety, economic, and health risks to the nation’s cities.
Mayors Walsh and Hancock further advocated demand reduction as a key prevention strategy in the Federal Strategic Action Plan on Services for Victims of Trafficking, and that all anti-trafficking strategies are survivor-informed and comprehensive, holding sex buyers and pimps accountable, while providing exit strategies and options for prostituted individuals.
Both Mayors suggested that training and resources be available to local governments and the criminal justice system to stop and deter sex buyers through arrest and prosecution, fines, fees, and penalty assessments that match the severity of the crime, and programs to change sex buyers’ behavior long-term (such as so-called “john schools”) through federal and state law and city ordinances. They encouraged the USCM to support research projects evaluating the effectiveness of demand-related programs and activities.
National Task Force on Addiction Recovery Services
Mayor Walsh advocated for access to detox services, transitional programs, and safe sober housing to meet the increasingly high demand for services, as there are not enough preventative addiction education services for young people. Currently, the tragic effects of drug and alcohol addiction are negatively impacting residents in cities and towns across the country; and individuals struggling with addiction often experience homelessness, or incarceration for crimes related to their addiction.
Mayor Walsh requested that USCM recommend that the White House convene a National Task Force comprised of: representatives from relevant federal agencies including ONDCP, SAMHSA, CDC, FDA, and DEA; Mayors; relevant state officials; community-based professionals and experts in the recovery field; foundations; universities; and people in recovery. The Task Force will identify the gaps in recovery services, examine and share best practices, and make recommendations for action at the federal, state and local levels for the provision of prevention, treatment, social supports, and long-term care needed to keep residents in recovery from addiction healthy.
Saving Lives through Overdose Prevention
Mayor Walsh and Mayor Ralph Becker of Salt Lake City, UT, advocated for all first responders across the nation to be equipped with naloxone. Death from opioid overdose is preventable through the use of naloxone, a medication that reverses the respiratory depression that causes death from overdose.
Mayors Walsh and Becker sought an expansion of education efforts to raise national awareness from the USCM. Both mayors requested that the USCM support the continued establishment of emergency “Good Samaritan” policies to encourage individuals to call 911 in the case of an overdose, without fear of prosecution. Establishing emergency “Good Samaritan” laws to protect people who call 911 from prosecution would increase timely medical attention to overdose victims. Eighteen states and the District of Columbia have enacted “Good Samaritan” laws; and the National Drug Control Strategy acknowledges that drug problems are most effectively handled at the community level and the strategy emphasizes the importance of local, community-based efforts.