City Council Work Session September 4th

Work Session: Cure Violence Presentation
The session started with a video of Gary Slutkin’s TED talk about his creation of the Cure Violence model. His model does not rely on the usual responses to violence: punishment; and the need to fix all societal ills (poverty, education, racism, etc). His model is based on the responses normally used to stop health epidemics: interrupt transmission; prevent further spread; and shift the norms within the community with education and activities.

Folks involved in Durham’s Cure Violence initiative (Bull City United) offered up practical information. Durham’s Cure Violence program was initiated by County public health officials, approved by Durham County commissioners in 2016, and the program got started with $420,000 in County funds and a $30,000 grant. Neighborhood sites are chosen based on the number of shootings in a given square mile.

An office is then set up within that site staffed by 3-6 people, preferably one site manager, three interrupters and two contract workers. The interrupters come from the community. Most are in their mid to late 30s with 10 years or more jail time and so they understand how to intervene and prevent personal or community problems from erupting into gun play. The police are not involved in the program except to supply data re shootings to Bull City United. In the Durham Cure Violence sites there has been a 43% decrease in the number of people shot and a 12% reduction in shootings at a time when Durham has seen an overall 3.7% increase in shootings.

Skip Alston was present at the Work Session representing Guilford County commissioners who want to work in partnership with the Greensboro City Council towards the implementation of the Cure Violence model in Greensboro.

Work Session: Cure Violence Discussion
Discussions centered on costs and structure. Councilwoman Hightower thinks the City should be involved as partners with the County. Councilwoman Kennedy feels that the connection to the County Public Health Department is the key to the stability of financing for the program. Councilman Outling twice expressed his need for more research into other models by groups besides Cure Violence.

David Parrish, Greensboro City Manager will get discussions started with County staff, County Commissioners and City Council members.

Note: During the work session I became concerned that the backnforth between County and City regarding funding would stall the Cure Violence initiative. And Mr. Outling’s stubborn insistence that the Cure Violence model should not be the only model considered was mystifying to me given the good track record of Cure Violence in other cities.

CJ Brinson was present at the work session and he commented about Cure Violence later that day at the City Council meeting. His comments begin at 1:38 in the meeting video which can be watched here:

-Hester Petty

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