In a New York Times op-ed, four leaders in the effort to reduce gun violence are calling on the federal government to better fund the kind of local intervention strategies pioneered across the country and in development here in Chicago. The community-led strategies are built around partnerships with neighborhood organizations, local police, social services providers and interventions targeted at the most vulnerable young people.
"In the 1990s, a highly effective gun violence reduction strategy was developed in Boston by a group including law enforcement officers, researchers, and black clergy members. According to the National Institute of Justice, it resulted in a 63 percent reduction in the average monthly number of youth homicide victims in that city, an accomplishment that was called "the Boston Miracle."
Since then, variations of that strategy have been implemented in cities across the country. For example, according to a study by the Campbell Collaboration, a nonprofit organization that evaluates the effects of this type of intervention, Stockton, Calif., saw a 42 percent reduction in its monthly count of gun homicides in the first year of the strategy's implementation; similarly, Oakland, Calif., saw just under a 30 percent reduction. (In 2017, the city is on track to have its second-lowest homicide rate in over 30 years.)
Effective gun violence reduction strategies adopt a highly targeted, data-based approach in which the small number of individuals most at risk for shooting (and being shot) are provided with individualized programs of support and pressure to lay down their guns. To this end, law enforcement officials, clergy members, community leaders, social service providers and mentors who have themselves escaped violent lifestyles work in partnership with one another to help these individuals turn their lives around.
Part of the beauty of this approach is that unlike tactics such as "stop and frisk" policing, these strategies do not eat away at already fractured relationships between law enforcement and communities of color. Instead, they harness the leadership and experience of the people who live in and understand these communities."
The writers are Michael McBride, the national director of the PICO Live Free Campaign, Antonio Cediel, the campaign manager of PICO Network Urban Strategies, Amber Goodwin, the director of the Community Justice Reform Coalition and Ciera Walker, the executive director of Live Free Chicago.
If you are an employer, you can hire young people at risk. If you are a community leader, you can help improve police-community relations. If you are a health care provider, you can support trauma-informed care to gun violence victims. If you are a funder, you can support any one of these efforts. Whatever you do, your voice matters when you speak up in support of policies that can make our neighborhoods safer. Reach out to learn more.