May 5 – Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz plans to sign a deal with Cure Violence Global Inc. to support his gun violence reduction initiative, which he seriously launched in February.
The Chicago-based nonprofit was founded in 2000 by a former head of the World Health Organization’s intervention development department and deals with gun violence as a contagious disease. JoJuan Armor, program director for the city’s Gun Violence Reduction Initiative, said training through Cure Violence will enable him and his team of as-yet-hired violence interrupters to engage and reduce tension in a productive manner.
The contract costs the city $ 80,000, a general fund issue that Toledo City Council is due to vote on next Tuesday.
“We’re not trying to recreate the wheel. We’re not trying to find something that hasn’t been proven effective,” Armor told council members during an agenda review meeting on Tuesday. “So when we cure violence, we have the opportunity to target those people who pose the greatest risk.”
Legislative Director Gretchen DeBacker said the cure violence model will help the team with intervention strategies to prevent gun violence in Toledo. She said it was guided by an understanding that gun violence is a public health issue and that communities can change for the better.
The model deals with violence as well as with a disease, Ms. DeBacker told the council. It helps identify and distract conflict, identify and treat people at high risk, and change social norms.
She said the $ 80,000 deal will include data analysis services and an expert review of partnerships and community meetings to determine Toledo’s next steps in the fight against gun violence. Ms. DeBacker said the violence disruptors will be key to Toledo’s success and that the contract with Cure Violence will help city officials train them effectively.
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“It’s a truly individualized grassroots intervention on the street that keeps the violence and trauma from spreading to other family members and other members of the community,” she said.
Alderman Sam Report was impressed with Armor’s first community gun violence meeting on April 17th at Scott High School and is confident that Armor can connect political initiatives with everyday realities in the neighborhood and create change.
He said he supports the work, but he wants to make sure the city measures what is working and what is not annually.
Armor and Ms. DeBacker said they could keep the city council updated on the progress of the program, in the meantime sharing success stories and data from other cities that Cure Violence has worked with.
Councilor Tiffany Preston Whitman said Toledo’s battle against gun violence took years and she warned her colleagues not to be discouraged or critical if intervention programs don’t work right away.
“We’re talking about years of historical divestments in certain communities. I think it’s important that we be very careful about wanting about metrics when there was a time when we had community members who weren’t heard,” she said . “This is the time for us to make sure we are taking the time to address this issue.”
Armor said he has planned additional community meetings to further discuss gun violence reduction strategies at the neighborhood level.