GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — The City of Grand Rapids is working to curb violence and save lives in the process.
Commissioner Joe Jones has been spearheading the effort to pass a program called "Cure Violence," which has been proven effective in cities such as Chicago, Baltimore and Philadelphia. In some areas like Chicago, it is believed to have brought down shootings by 73% for a time.
The City says the proven effectiveness is what drew them to the program, particularly after the historically violent year in 2020. Thirty-eight homicides were recorded, marking a 92% increase from 2019 to 2020.
"This is very much a community initiative. This is not just a city hall thing. This is really, truly an all-hands-on-deck approach," said Commissioner Joe Jones, who believes the program will pass with unanimous support later this month. "It’s steeped in being evidenced based. It has shown really good results, in different parts of the country."
The program would focus on areas in the city where the most violence happens. People known as "disrupters" would become part of those communities to prevent violence from happening and establish relationships with those who may choose a violent path.
"These are individuals of and in the community, in which they would be serving. They have legitimate relationships. They have credibility, and they have a lived experience that will help in bringing about mediation and peace in situations that are very, very intense and usually lead to more violence," said Commissioner Jones.
The program costs roughly $700,000 per year, with the city hoping to contract with Cure Violence for at least three years and expand the timeline thereafter.