June 2012 E-Newsletter – CeaseFire: Spreading Nationally, Internationally

From the Executive Director

Where would we be if we understood violence as learned behavior that is contagious? What would happen if we directed our efforts to stopping the spread of this contagion by changing thinking and behavior, rather than by wholesale arrests and imprisonment? And what does it take to interrupt and prevent the contagion of violence?

These and other questions formed the core of a recent two-day workshop on “The Contagion of Violence” in Washington DC hosted by the Institute of Medicine, the health arm of the National Academy of Sciences. I was privileged to serve on the planning committee of this historic event and to provide the lead presentation. The New York Times called the IOM the United States’ “most esteemed and authoritative adviser on issues of health and medicine,” and stated that its reports can “transform medical thinking around the world.”

At the conference, a dynamic interdisciplinary assemblage of professionals and experts in a wide variety of fields considered the contagion model as a way of re-understanding violence and, more promisingly, as a way of interrupting and dramatically reducing this problem. I’m encouraged by the increasing openness of the scientific community to consider violence as a health epidemic and the possibility that we can cure violence. The conference provides evidence that the disease and disease control model is taking hold in the scientific community.

The CeaseFire Chicago model is spreading nationally and internationally. Everything you do helps – telling others, spreading the word through social media, providing financial support. Thank you for partnering with us to change thinking and behavior.

Warm regards,

Gary Slutkin

Founder & Executive Director


Changing the culture of violence in East Baltimore

USA Today reporter Melanie Eversley spent time following CeaseFire-replication staffJune Newsletter Baltimore
in Baltimore and New York to show how the CeaseFire model reduces lethal killings and shootings. Hear and see Gardnel Carter, Safe Streets East’s Site Director, explain how CeaseFire gets results in Baltimore.

Partnering in Chicago to stop killings

The City of Chicago and CeaseFire have joined together to reduce killings and shootings inJune Newsletter Chicago Chicago. The city has pledged to provide funds to expand CeaseFire’s operations into three new neighborhoods. The partnership was announced by Mayor Rahm Emanuel and Police Supt. Garry McCarthy following a bloody Memorial Day weekend in the city.  At the end of May, the city’s 2012 homicide tally was nearly 50 percent higher than the same period of 2011.  The good news is that in CeaseFire zones, as of May 31, shootings are down and killings are at the same level as last year. And of the 11 homicides over the Memorial Day weekend, none were in CeaseFire communities.  Writing in Crain’s Chicago Business CeaseFire Executive Director Gary Slutkin weighed in on how to in interrupt the violence between Chicago’s factions.

New York’s Crown Heights goes 61 days without a shooting

A recent string of days without a shooting-about 61 as of May 21-marked a June Newsletter Crown Heightsparticularly successful stretch for the Crown Heights neighborhood and Save Our Streets, one of three groups in New York City that uses the Chicago CeaseFire approach to combating shootings. Started in February 2010, the group focuses on a 40-block area of the neighborhood. It employs a health approach to change the mind-set of young people in the neighborhood about guns in the same way smoking bans changed how tobacco was perceived, organizers said. “We’re not crime fighters or vigilantes,” said SOS outreach worker David Bookhart, 50 years old. “We’re credible messengers. Individuals know they can trust us.”

Fighting violence in Canada just like a disease

“Violence is learned behavior,” Frank Perez, CeaseFire’s national director told police officers, justice and education department staff, and community and religious leaders during a recent three-day visit to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Perez, in Halifax at the invitation of a group led by the Nova Scotia Justice Department, talked with CBC Nova Scotia about the success of the CeaseFire Chicago model.

June Newsletter HalifaxAccording to Deputy Chief Bill Moore of the Halifax Regional Police, “Gun violence is very real in our community. While the crime rate has been trending downward for eight years, we’re seeing an increase in the level of violence as well as criminals’ propensity to use firearms.” The Chronicle Herald covered Perez’ workshop at the Halifax Club.

Interrupting violence in Philadelphia

CeaseFire launched in Philadelphia in July 2011  with four workers.  Philadelphia CeaseFire, based at the Temple University medical school’s Center for Bioethics, Urban Health and Policy, seeks to reduce the number of homicides and shootings in North Philadelphia. Funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, the program is already producing some positive results.

Gary Slutkin, MD, CeaseFire’s Founder and Executive Director, and Marla Davis Bellamy, J.D., M.G.A., Executive Director of CeaseFire Philadelphia, recently joined journalists and news organizations covering violence among young people at a two-day workshop in Philadelphia hosted by the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma.  Check out this video

“Why we support CeaseFire”  

“I grew up with violence and have moved past it to have a very successful and happy life. When I was younger, I always wished there was someone who would help me, no one did. So I think it is important to support organizations that give people hope and a chance at changing their lives.”
– Barbara, Boulder, Colorado