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Community Violence Interventions Need More Investments

Cities where community anti-violence initiatives are operating are reporting promising results, but experts believe they are not yet proved to be "evidence-based" and replicated elsewhere. Community Violence Intervention (CVI) strategies have been implemented in cities across the U.S. to reduce crime, primarily gun violence.

Without more support of politicians and investment in resources and research, CVI strategies to prevent gun violence loses the chance of being an "evidence-based" model in a nation where many thousands of citizens died from gun-related injuries in 2020.

CVI strategies require the work of multiple supporters, the most crucial being those who are part of the communities where they are seeking to bring change. "The people closer to the problems are the ones closer to the solutions," said Isabel Rojas of the National Network for Safe Communities at a webinar Wednesday sponsored by the Rockefeller Institute of Government on deploying community gun violence initiatives.

Local leaders and experts operate separately from law enforcement and traditional social services to create tighter-knit communities to minimize gun violence more effectively.

For instance, the New York City Mayor's Office of Criminal Justice (MOCJ) has a crisis management system in place to work with high-risk youth and young adults. This strategy involves utilizing local partner organizations that have community trust provide crucial services and life guidance to those who have the highest incidents of gun violence, said MOCJ's Deanna Logan.

In neighborhoods where New York City implemented crisis management systems, there was up to a 63 percent decline in gun violence between 2014 and 2016, according to a John Jay College of Criminal Justice study released in June.

Other cities that use the same CVI strategy might not get the same results. "It's hard to standardize what's effective," said Jeffrey Butts of John Jay College, "We need to start getting serious about components of programs, not just programs at large because everywhere is different."

Despite CVI's promise, there are barriers to its becoming more widespread and reaching a higher potential. One is the lack of investment for these strategies and programs by politicians.

In many instances, politicians hear about the latest fad that is working and simply write a check, Butts said, but what communities need is their full presence, patience, and support in order to create community safety rather than pressure to get faster results.

To better legitimatize CVI strategies, local leaders should work with researchers and conduct high-quality evaluations that are assessed using scientific standards rather than what's politically accepted, the John Jay study said.

Experts believe that local leaders should constantly be at the forefront when discussing the implementation and effectiveness of these strategies in their communities while politicians stand by and give their trust and support. "If we want healthier communities, we need to have more open conversations," Rojas said, "not just speak about it when the incident comes up."


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