BUILDING ON PROVEN COMMUNITY SOLUTIONS TO GUN VIOLENCE, NATIONAL EFFORT BRINGS EXPERTISE AND MILLIONS IN FUNDING
Baltimore, Baton Rouge, Indianapolis, Newark - National Black-led organizations committed to ending gun violence are partnering with mayors, local community-based organizations, and hospitals to reduce gun homicides and non-fatal shootings by 20 percent over the next five years in 12 cities. The first cohort of cities - Newark, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Indianapolis - begin their work this month with the Coalition to Advance Public Safety (CAPS) to scale up, unite and bring cohesion and additional funding to their local community violence intervention (CVI) ecosystems.
This month, the Coalition to Advance Public Safety (CAPS) kicked off its groundbreaking initiative to reduce gun homicides and non-fatal shootings by 20 percent over the next five years in Newark, Baltimore, Baton Rouge, and Indianapolis - the first four of an expected 12 cities where CAPS - will work with mayors, community based organizations and communities to scale up, unite and bring greater cohesion and funding to cities community violence intervention (CVI) ecosystems.
“Today we take a historic step in our journey to reimagine public safety. The Coalition to Advance Public Safety will change the way cities and their partners across the country invest in themselves by saving lives and strengthening communities,” said Anthony Smith, Executive Director of Cities United, during the virtual press conference announcing the initiative.
In addition to bringing the training and technical assistance to each of the cities, CAPS will help coordinate up to $500,000 available as mini-grants within each jurisdiction.
Last year, gun violence decreased slightly, but still claimed over twenty thousand lives for the second year in a row. While the recent spikes in violence and relentless incidents of mass shootings have sparked new public attention to the urgent crisis of gun violence in this country, this epidemic has devastated communities of color for decades. Between 2000 and 2018, 162,000 Black Americans—including 139,000 Black men—died violent deaths; among those, 85 percent were killed by gun violence. Much of this violence stems from systemic and pervasive inequities such as poverty, barriers to health care, and insufficient educational and economic opportunities.
Fortunately, growing support for the CVI Movement is providing cities and mayors greater hope that, similar to the COVID pandemic, we can end this pandemic of gun violence.
Baltimore Mayor Brandon R. Scott highlighted the progress made using CVI in “West Baltimore, “the home of Freddie Gray, the home of the Wire and countless television shows.” It saw a 30 percent reduction in violence. “We have to scale up this work,” said Mayor Scott and “build up (CVI) ecosystems across the country so that we can truly produce the best outcomes.”
Baton Rouge Mayor-President Sharon Weston Broome pointed to last year’s “23 percent reduction in homicides, and 14 percent reduction in non-fatal shootings,” in her city as powerful evidence of CVI’s potential. “The complexity of violence can’t be simply addressed without the trust, the buy-in and partnership of the communities that are most affected by violence,” she added.
Newark Mayor Ras Baraka embraced the idea of CVI as soon as he was elected in 2015, and sees Newark’s 60-year low in homicides last year as clear evidence that with more resources and support, cities can do even more.
“I’m excited about what CAPS offers,” said Mayor Baraka. “Many Black and brown-led organizations in these communities fight the fight but do not have the resources and support that they need. This gives us the opportunity to supplement what we are doing on a municipal level and some of the things that are happening on a state level to the right organizations and right folks who are closer to this problem that can get this solved.”
These first four cities represent the pioneering efforts in quantifying the core components and refining the interrelationships necessary to bring the CVI Ecosystem to scale in ways that are self-correcting, quantitative, and strategic and most importantly – adaptable to any city, jurisdiction, or area of our nation.
To support this work, and help cities better quantify the problem of gun violence, CAPS has developed cviecosystem.org a powerful online tool providing data and analysis of CVI Ecosystems for 50 U.S. cities with high homicide rates.The site represents a step forward in dispelling common myths about gun violence in communities while informing cities what an ideal CVI Ecosystem looks like.
“First important thing to understand is that violence, community violence in particular, is highly concentrated,” said Fatimah Loren Dreier, Executive Director of The HAVI. A 2015 analysis found that 50 percent of all homicides in the entire United States are concentrated in 127 cities. And within those cities, it's only a fraction of a percent of individuals who are - again through neglect caught in cycles of violence - responsible. So, there are structural problems and they can be addressed with structural and targeted interventions.”
“CVI has been reducing violence in urban communities for close to three decades. The work is evidence-based and data informed, yet historically underfunded and fragmented. CAPS’ focus will be to build CVI organizational infrastructure (both fiscally and programmatically) to serve as a core partner in cities’ public safety strategy,” said Aqeela Sherrills, Executive Director of CBPS Collective. “CVI does not seek to disrupt nor replace any resource but to unite the entire community in efforts to eliminate violence.
For funders supporting this work, it is the strategic approach of connecting the dots among various intervention strategies and scaling them up into a cohesive ecosystem that moves community and gun violence beyond a simple criminal justice frame and leans into a collective public health frame that resonates and gets their support. Initial funding for CAPS is coming from the Ballmer Group and the The Schusterman Family Foundation.
“The impact of pervasive violence reverberates beyond individuals to neighborhoods and communities, interrupting and limiting the opportunities that drive economic mobility. Ballmer Group is proud to support these four organizations, whose approaches have been proven to reduce and prevent violence, to work together and to build on strengths and resources that communities already have,” said Nina Revoyr, Executive Director of Ballmer Group - Los Angeles. “We remain committed to supporting community-led violence intervention and building the public health ecosystem necessary to end violence.”
CAPS is composed of the Health Alliance for Violence Intervention (The HAVI), National Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (NICJR), Community Based Public Safety Collective (the Collective) and Cities United. The four groups which comprise CAPS have worked together for years and most recently served as the training and technical assistance providers for the recently ended 18-month long White House Community Violence Intervention Collaborative (CVIC). The new initiative will build off lessons learned and strategies utilized in support of CVIC.
Watch the virtual press conference announcing the initiative on YouTube.