NEWS RELEASE: Dr. Debra Mason Named Coordinator of the City’s Community Public Safety Initiative

Dr. Debra Mason Named Coordinator of the City’s Community Public Safety Initiative
The selection completes another phase of the 2022 report from the Community Based Public Safety Collective, which will remain under contract to the City for 2023 to assist with community violence intervention and reduction efforts.


In early 2022, the Wilmington City Council and the City of Wilmington entered into a $38,000 contract with the Community Based Public Safety Collective, also known as the CBPS Collective, to undertake a landscape analysis to assist the City in its community violence intervention and reduction efforts. The CBPS Collective conducted more than 58 interviews with a variety of stakeholders, surveyed 20 front line intervention workers, and reviewed crime and hospital data to examine the contexts of local violence.


On October 10, 2022, City Council adopted the report titled “Landscape Analysis Report for the City of Wilmington,” which can be read here, to take into consideration the “General Recommendations” and “Suggested Action Steps for the City of Wilmington” issued by the report. The report encouraged the Administration to release funds to the appropriate entities for community violence intervention in a fiscally responsible and timely manner, to ensure that these entities have access to the necessary training, and to designate a coordinator to oversee the ongoing implementation of the City’s strategy to interrupt community violence.


Mayor Mike Purzycki and City Council President Trippi Congo today announced that the next phases of the “Landscape Analysis Report for the City of Wilmington” will be managed by Dr. Debra Mason, the Deputy Executive Director of the HOPE Commission and a former Delaware Department of Correction Probation and Parole Officer and Training Administrator. Dr. Mason’s title will be Coordinator of Wilmington’s Community Public Safety Initiative (CPSI), and she will be on loan from the HOPE Commission to the City for 2023. The City will reimburse the HOPE Commission for Dr. Mason’s 2023 salary and benefits totaling $150,000.
Dr. Debra Mason, photo courtesy of the Mayor’s Administration.
“I’m excited that we have completed another phase in the Landscape Analysis Report for the City of Wilmington,” said Council President Trippi Congo. “Dr. Mason’s new role will involve working closely with community organizations that continue to innovate and work with our residents and elected officials on ways to reduce and prevent community violence. We are confident that Dr. Mason will have a positive impact on the City and Council’s vision to have a unified approach to making our streets safer.”


The CBPS Collective and the City have signed a new $400,000 contract for 2023 so the Collective can continue to assist with Wilmington’s violence reduction initiative.


CBPS Collective representatives Joe Paul and Shaun Emerson will manage the Collective’s efforts which include assisting Dr. Mason with training the initial community organizations that will be involved in this effort. The following four Wilmington-based organizations will have access to $150,000 each to help them become more fully involved over the next three to six months in the CPSI:
  • Center for Structural Equity (CSE)
  • Youth Advocate Program (YAP)
  • Group Violence Intervention (GVI)
  • Network Connect
The Collective will also assist Dr. Mason with the creation and operation of a Public Safety Round Table, the implementation of the Community Sentinels program, and the development of a Crisis Response RFP as recommended in the CBPS report.


“I am humbled to be selected to coordinate this new initiative,” said Dr. Mason. “My years with Probation and Parole has allowed me to see many of the issues affecting the City firsthand. I am determined to work towards change for the people of Wilmington and with the support of Mayor Purzycki, City Council, and the Collective, I am confident we will succeed.”


The Collective’s responsibilities will also include the following:


  • Conduct Organizational Readiness Assessments for participating community organizations to identify the current level of infrastructure and organizational health and readiness for community violence intervention work
  • Assist with building organizational and programmatic readiness, as well as provide participating organizations with coaching on topics such as financial management, operational protocols, workforce development, relationship/partnership management, services to gun violence victims, fundraising, and identifying federal funding opportunities
  • Facilitate intervention peer-learning between selected intervention organizations in Wilmington and established community based public safety organizations in other cities to share experiential knowledge and best practices.


“I am pleased that the City has announced the partnerships with CSE, YAP, GVI, Network Connect, and the Collective,” said 6th District Council Member Yolanda McCoy. “To hold something this exciting under wraps was frustrating but necessary until we found a leader who could assist these different organizations and help them collaborate and reach goals they have set for themselves. I believe Dr. Debra Mason is a great choice and I look forward to working together to achieve the reduction in violence and crime the City deserves.”


About CBPS Collective
The Collective is a national training and technical assistance and capacity building provider for emerging CBPS initiatives, also known as Community Violence Intervention agencies. Its goal is to create a world in which lives are not lost to community violence. The Collective’s mission is to strengthen neighborhood leadership by investing in education, advocacy and training of community based public safety practitioners and organizations. To learn more about the CBPS Collective, you can view the April 19, 2022, Public Safety Committee Meeting by clicking here.


About Dr. Mason
Dr. Debra Mason has a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Sociology. Her doctorate is in Social Science with a focus on Prevention Science. Dr. Mason’s research identified the relationship between Adverse Childhood Experiences and recidivism, coining the term Trauma-Induced Recidivism. Dr. Mason also teaches at Wilmington University. Before coming to the HOPE Commission, she spent more than ten years with the Delaware Department of Correction as a Probation and Parole Officer and as a Training Administrator. She has also worked with other reentry programs and at Howard R. Young Correctional Institute as a drug and alcohol counselor.
While with Probation and Parole, she assisted with and developed numerous programs that assisted justice-involved individuals and the Officers. She helped Commissioner Mary McDonough start Trauma-Informed Probation, the only human trafficking program in the State of Delaware. Dr. Mason has also completed numerous trainings relating to trauma-informed care, an essential component of such treatment courts. She also developed a community resource program for officers at probation.
At the HOPE Commission, Dr. Mason has established relationships with numerous community partners, including but not limited to West End Neighborhood House and the University of Delaware. The collaboration with West End provides virtual GED services to the members of the HOPE Commission and the surrounding community. She works with the University of Delaware and HEALTH (Health Engagement Access Learning Teaching Humanity) for All to provide a monthly service to the HOPE Commission, which consists of a Nurse Practitioner who conducts health and wellness checks for the members and the community. In addition to the work with the community, Dr. Mason oversees the intern program and is the liaison between surrounding universities and the HOPE Commission.
Dr. Mason has been working with the criminal justice system for more than 15 years and continues to provide insight to the members of the HOPE Commission. She has always taken a trauma-informed approach when working with justice-involved individuals. Her goal is to help returning citizens reach their goals, live pro-social lives, and remain arrest-free.
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