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Urban safety, community healing & gun violence reduction: the advance peace model

This new article was published by Jason Corburn, Devone Boggan & Khaalid Muttaqi in the Urban Transformations Journal in July 2021.

Cities around the world continue to grapple with safety, security and the role for law enforcement in reducing gun crime. Recent calls for alternatives to militarized policing in cities and addressing racism in urban crime policies and practices gives new urgency to explore community-led strategies. Advance Peace is a program that aims to reduce urban gun violence using formerly incarcerated community members as street outreach mentors and violence interrupters. Yet, few urban policy makers know of Advance Peace and how it is distinct from other community-based urban gun violence interruption programs, often called focused deterrence. In this paper, we describe the innovative approach used by Advance Peace, what distinguishes it from other municipal gun violence reduction strategies, and examine the elements of its unique, public health informed program called the Peacemaker Fellowship®. The Peacemaker Fellowship enrolls the small number of the most violent and hard to reach members of a community at the center of gun violence in an intensive 18-month program of trauma-informed, healing-centered, anti-racist mentorship, education, social services, and life opportunities. We suggest that cities around the world seeking transformations in their approach to public safety, including addressing structural racism and centering community expertise, explore the unique features of the Advance Peace approach.
Policy and practice recommendations 1 - Institutionalize peacemaking as a function of city government, outside law enforcement. 2- Hire formerly incarcerated community members to act as street-outreach mentors to those at the center of conflicts and to interrupt violence. 3 - Use a public health informed approach to violence reduction, which acknowledges the traumas of racism and prioritizes healing. 4 - Trust the young people experiencing trauma and gun violence to co-design the healing and violence reduction strategies with street-credible mentors. 5 - Advance Peace can save cities millions of dollars in law enforcement, health care and other costs by preventing gun violence, which can allow cities to invest more resources to improve conditions in impoverished communities.

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