Grand Rapids planning community meet-and-greet with Cure Violence team

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – Grand Rapids is hosting a meet-and-greet for community members to learn more about the city’s new Cure Violence program and who will be running it.

Staff aim to hold the meet-and-greet in early November but are still finalizing those plans and an exact date, said Brandon Davis, director of the city’s bureau of oversight and public accountability.

The nine members of Grand Rapids’ Cure Violence program are currently in training and planning how best to implement the model of violence reduction and intervention.

Davis said he has no specific date on which the team will begin their education and intervention work. He said it is important that staff are fully trained in the Cure Violence model and practice using it before work begins.

Related: Urban League was tapped to heal violence in Grand Rapids

Cure Violence is a model for treating violence like an epidemic. The model uses methods similar to health strategies, such as detection, disruption of transmission, and changing behavior and norms, to proactively address and thwart violence.

The three-pronged approach includes: anticipating where violence can occur and intervening before it does; Identifying those at greatest risk of violence and working to change their behavior; and influencing social norms to prevent the use of violence.

Davis said that Cure Violence staff will interact with people most connected to violence in the city and try to help them stay out of it and become victims of it. The team will also work to identify conflicts and disagreements in the community and prevent them from turning into violence.

The team will use data to share their violence interruption strategies and work with law enforcement agencies to learn about shootings and get crime data for target areas.

Many parishioners in 2020 urged the city to implement Cure Violence or a similar program as an alternative way to reduce the violence that is no longer police officers on the street. These calls came amid widespread protests against racial injustice and the historic levels of deadly violence in the city that year.

In July, Grand Rapids commissioners signed an agreement with the Urban League of West Michigan to lead and administer the city’s violence cure program. Staff from the Cure Violence international team have been recruited to get the program up and running and train the workers.

The Cure Violence team in Grand Rapids consists of nine people: three violence interrupters, three field workers, a trauma-informed care advisor, a site manager and a site manager.

Those eligible as violence interrupters and outreach workers, as per the city’s agreement with the Urban League, were required to have credibility, relationship and knowledge to identify and work with those at greatest risk, in shootings and killings to be involved.

Davis said the community will learn more about these workers at the meet-and-greet.

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