GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — The city of Grand Rapids has selected the Urban League of West Michigan to implement Cure Violence, a one-of-a-kind program that uses a public health model to stop violence.
The Urban League will be tasked with the implementing the Cure Violence Global Model, a model that first targets where the violence is happening and takes a proactive approach in preventing future incidents from occurring.
Gregg Hampshire with the Urban League said another key part of the program identifies those at highest risk for violence, using their team of trained community members called violence interrupters.
“The core of the Cure Violence model is that you hire from these communities,” Hampshire said. “These aren’t individuals that are being hired by us and then being placed in these communities, we are hiring from these communities.”
Following calls for less police intervention at protests and demonstrations seen over the last year in Grand Rapids, the Cure Violence model will be a tool to address the rising violence without putting more officers on the street.
“This is a reflection of the fact that we’re listening to the voices of the community,” said Brandon Davis, the director of the city’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability. “It’s also a data-driven approach to violence reduction.”
City leaders say this program couldn’t come at a better time, as Grand Rapids is fresh off its deadliest year on record.
While the number of homicides so far this year is down from last year, officials say there has been an increase in gun violence.
“We’ve seen the stats that Cure Violence is a proven model, and we also see the need in our community,” Davis said. “All of the factors point to why not now, instead of why now and I’m excited that we are moving forward with this program.”
The timeline for implementing the program is still in the works, but Hampshire said they hope to have violence interrupters trained and working within communities by the end of the year.