Local News

Durham group trusts 'violence interrupters' to bring down shooting rate

Posted February 9, 2021 5:29 p.m. EST
Updated February 9, 2021 9:16 p.m. EST

— So far in 2021, 18 people have been shot in Durham, and five have died. The most recent shooting left two people dead an hour apart from one another.

Cure Violence Global's senior director of science policy, Charlie Ransford, said crime is up across the country right now, mainly because of stress from the coronavirus pandemic, the economy and other factors.

Cure Violence Global works to stop shootings and killings in Durham, and across the country, with the non-policing model "Cure Violence."

Ransford said the company partnered with Bull City United to adopt the model about three years ago. The company helps hire trusted people in the community, known as "violence interrupters," who have credibility in areas where violence is more common.

"Violence interrupters are trained on how to de-escalate [and] how to pull somebody down," explained Ransford. "How do you take this from being a conflict that was going to result in violence or shooting? How do you make this into a conflict that can be resolved without any violence?"

The model focuses on detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating individuals at high risk of involvement with violence and changing social norms that tolerate violence in the community

​"I think communities like Durham, and other cities that are experiencing increases ... this is what they need to do is more paid positions on the streets to help individuals that are turning to violence right now," said Ransford.

He added that this approach works because people are more trusting of members who live and work in their community.

"The problem with violence is that it's multi-faceted, and they do need an expansion of the program, and we can see that by what's going on in Durham," said Ransford. "Hopefully, we can have more people on the streets [and] we'll be able to get on top of that problem in Durham."

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