Community Violence Intervention (CVI) programs curb rising gun violence by centering communities, especially Black and Brown communities, most impacted by gun violence and by supporting individuals who are at the highest risk of being a victim or a perpetrator of violence. Young people are also disportionately impacted by gun violence; young people between the ages of 15 and 29 made up 31 percent of all gun deaths and nearly 50 percent of gun related homicides in 2016. CVI programs are proven to reduce this violence and save lives. Cities that have implemented CVI programs to address gun violence have seen a decline in violence: Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and Philadelphia have seen over a 30 percent reduction in shootings and killings after adopting the Cure Violence model. When we center communities instead of centering policing, communities feel safer and are more likely to engage in mitigating the spread of gun violence.
Here are just 5 examples of how putting communities first can make communities safer:
1. Hospital-based violence interruption programs (HVIPs) are programs that reach victims at their most vulnerable. HVIPs are located in trauma centers and emergency rooms to reach victims the moment they reach the hospital. Case managers engage survivors, while also working to prevent retaliation. (Learn More)
2. Group Violence Intervention involves collaboration between social service providers, community members, and law enforcement. These programs are intended to increase trust between law enforcement and the communities they police. (Learn More)
3. Violence Interrupters or Street Outreach programs are led by interventionists that live in the community. The programs focus on building relationships, supporting survivors of violence, and implementing restorative justice solutions to gun violence. These programs are immediate crisis responses and also long term support. (Learn More)
4. Cure Violence programs aim to change the norms about community violence and create pathways for young people involved in gun violence. This model trains community members to detect and interrupt violence, identify and treat individuals at the highest risk of violence, and mobilize the community to change norms. (Learn More)
5. Community-driven crime prevention through environmental design are programs where communities reduce crime and violence by using architecture and urban planning to create or restore public spaces where the community can gather and feel a sense of safety. Restoration of vacant lots and investing in a community’s physical environment has been proven to reduce crime and gun violence. When communities look safe, people feel safe. (Learn More)
CVI programs make sense. Slowly, our government has been recognizing this and providing resources and opportunities for the expansion of CVI programs; just this year the Build Back Better Act included a momentous $5 billion in funding for local initiatives to combat gun violence. By providing resources and training to the people that live in communities most impacted by violence, we are giving communities an opportunity to heal from the inside by establishing greater trust in their neighbors and changing community norms about violence. Tens of thousands of people are victims of gun violence each year in the U.S., and that violence is concentrated in underserved Black and Brown communities. Investing in proven community-based solutions is a no brainer.