GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. — Spectrum Health is backing the implementation of a violence reduction and intervention program, acknowledging that violence in the community is a public health crisis.
The West Michigan-based not-for-profit health system is the first community partner to pledge its financial support for Cure Violence, and evidence-based program that significantly reduces violence in communities, according to a news release Friday.
Grand Rapids city commissioners will consider on Tuesday approval of a contract with Cure Violence Global.
The agreement would allow for training, technical assistance and implementation of the Cure Violence model in Grand Rapids.
Officials with Spectrum Health and the city are encouraging this health approach to violence interruption and prevention.
Grand Rapids has experienced significant increases in violent crime in recent years.
In 2020, the city saw a 21.7% increase in aggravated assaults and a 92.9% increase in homicides.
To date, 2021 shows an 11.9% increase in aggravated assaults and 19.4% increase in robberies. However, the city is experiencing a 71.4% reduction in homicides and a 20.9% reduction in burglaries.
Cure Violence’s approach addresses violence using the same health strategies used to fight epidemics.
If it approves the contract Tuesday, the city will contribute $75,000 toward the first year of the program’s operation.
The city has also committed to continue its investment for two additional years.
Spectrum Health is providing $300,000 in support.
“Our mission is to improve health, inspire hope and save lives,” Spectrum Health President and CEO Tina Freese Decker. “We understand the need to do more for communities that for too long have experienced health inequities.”
Cure Violence Global will assist the city with recruiting and selecting a community-based partner to implement the Cure Violence model.
The city’s Office of Oversight and Public Accountability in May is expected to issue a formal Request for Proposal for those services, which will also help the city identify a community partner.
Under the contract, Cure Violence will help interview and select the best candidates to serve as frontline staff and interact the community.
The ideal partner will have strong community ties and a demonstrated presence within Grand Rapids neighborhoods, according to Brandon Davis, director of the Office of Oversight and Public Accountability.
The agency will also utilize individuals that have influence with those at highest risk of committing shootings or perpetuating other violent acts.
The Cure Violence theory of change utilizes carefully selected and trained workers — trusted members of the communities it serves — to interrupt the contagion using a three-prong approach:
- Detecting and interrupting the transmission of violence – anticipate where violence may occur and intervene before it erupts.
- Changing the behavior of the highest potential transmitters – identify those at highest risk for violence and work to change their behavior.
- Changing community norms – influence social norms to discourage the use of violence.
More information can be found here.