August 2012 E-Newletter – CeaseFire: U.S. Mayors Endorse CeaseFire Approach

From the Executive Director

I am proud to say that the nation’s mayors endorsed the CeaseFire model at the June, 2012 United States Conference of Mayors 80th Annual Meeting in Orlando, both in a formal, written resolution affirmed by the entire conference, and in presentations by several mayors.

“Violence is a deeply rooted problem that can only be dealt with as a public health epidemic. The CeaseFire model is built on an idea that is exactly right,” said New Orleans Mayor Mitchell Landrieu.

Mayor Landrieu joined me, and Mayors Michael Nutter (Philadelphia), Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (Baltimore), and Ashley Swearengin (Fresno, Calif.) on a panel to discuss the CeaseFire model’s effective public health approach to stopping shootings and killings. Additionally, Jane Lowe, PhD, conveyed the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation’s strong support of the effort to spread the CeaseFire model to even more cities, and Jennifer Whitehill, PhD, faculty affiliate at the Johns Hopkins University Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence, presented on the evaluation from Safe Streets, the Baltimore CeaseFire replication site first released in January 2012 and now published online in The Journal of Urban Health.

We are extremely encouraged by this increasing recognition of the effectiveness of our work. Although the challenges are still with us – from street violence to international conflict – we are beginning to see a way to move violence into the past. We are catching a glimpse of a time when violence will no longer kill tens of thousands of individuals annually and threaten so many more.

You are a very valuable partner in this work. Thank you very much for your support.

Warm regards,

Gary Slutkin

Founder & Executive Director


The Nation’s Mayors Affirm Support for the CeaseFire Violence Prevention Model

Hear what the mayors of Philadelphia, New Orleans and Baltimore had to say at the US Conference of Mayors about CeaseFire and the homicides in their cities:

Mayor Michael Nutter, Philadelphia

“We need to be as safe in our cities, on our streets, as we want to be flying anywhere in  the United States or around the world … What happened as a result of 911? … We     changed security procedures for how you fly in the world as a result of that horrific incident on one day in the United States of America. Yet last year in 13 cities, more people were killed than were killed in one day in that horrific attack. I want to be safe flying. I want to be safe walking. And that’s what we need to focus on.”

Mayor Mitch Landrieu, New Orleans

“Thirteen thousand people were killed on the streets of America last year … Of those 13,000

people, 50% were young African-American men between 16 and 24 … Ask yourself what it  means. What it means is young black men are being slaughtered on the streets of America … In certain neighborhoods in our cities, you have young men being killed at sometimes 100 times the rate of the national average.

We have to do something to stop the carnage on the streets of America. We have to start with saying it’s a national epidemic, that we will not tolerate it, and that we will do everything we can to fix it.”

Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Baltimore

Baltimore has the distinction of operating the longest running CeaseFire replication. The annual cost of implementing and monitoring Safe Streets (as the program is called in Baltimore) is approximately $500,000 per site. That pales in comparison to the cost, both financial and  emotional, of shooting incidents. The CF model has saved many, many lives in Baltimore. Last year we were down to the lowest homicide rate since 1977. The evaluation identified conflict mediations as key to the reduction in violent incidents. Sites with statistically significant reductions in homicides incidents had three times as many conflict mediations per month as sites without significant reductions. Having the right outreach staff with the right skills is the most critical element to conducting high risk conflict mediations and is essential to the initiative.

Can Street Violence Be Fought Like a Virus?

In late June Philadelphia social worker and freelance writer Jeff Deeney, writing in The Nation, examined CeaseFire’s fledgling program in Philadelphia. Philly’s violence hot spots remain numerous, spread across a vast territory encompassing multiple neighborhoods and ethnic groups. How do a team of four and a single director get their arms around this? Deeney asked. Read how this “strictly grassroots and thinly funded program, comprised of a street outreach team (and paid staff) of only four people, working out of a small office space on Temple University’s campus, using volunteer undergraduate criminal justice majors for extra manpower to help locate social services for its clients” is making a difference.

Taking it to the streets in Iraq and London

CeaseFire’s health approach to urban violence can be extended globally. In fact, it has been. That was the message international journalists heard at the National Press Club in June.

As part of the National Press Club’s Newsmakers series, CeaseFire Executive Director Gary Slutkin and two of CeaseFire’s international partners spoke about the disease-like transmission of violence and ways to interrupt or prevent violence in various contexts, including the “Arab Spring,” the London riots and U.S. gang violence. Zainab Al-Suwaij, Executive Director of the American Islamic Congress and the implementer of Ambassadors for Peace in Iraq told journalists “We are trying to do on the ground in Islamic countries what CeaseFire’s work in Chicago has done. How can we implement the project in other places around the world?” Jason Featherstone, Executive Director of Surviving Our Streets, spoke about CeaseFire’s success in London.

Mike Smith, a 20-year member of the National Press Club, moderated the panel, part of the National Press Club’s Newsmakers series. Writing in the Huffington Post,he noted “If you haven’t heard of the Epidemiologist cum Interventionist, Dr. Slutkin, and his disease-state approach to preventing outbreaks of violence, you soon will.

Doing Their Peace to Cure Violence

What do these individuals have in common: High school students at Chicago’s Benito Juarez Community Academy; 40 U.S. Army soldiers attending a Senior Leader Course at   Fort Leonard Wood, MO; Middle school students at the Chicago Back of the Yards San Miguel School campus; Fashion designer Nicole Harry; more than 100 men at the Danville Correctional Center? Answer: All raised money which they donated CeaseFire. “We admire the goals of CeaseFire and hope that our donation will help the youth of Chicago,” SSG Jessica Wagner wrote when she sent the soldiers’ gift. “I chose to give this gift because I’m a firm believer of helping the kids gain their freedom and education,” Ms. Harry wrote. “They are unable to do the things I was able to do as a child. They go to school and play outside and have to worry about a bullet.”