Public Health: Law Enforcement’s New Frontier

Editor’s Note: Today’s blog is written by Tracie McClendon-Cole, Program Director at Aim4Peace, our partner in Kansas City, Missouri. You can follow the program on Twitter @Aim4Peace.

Here in Kansas City, Missouri, the local law enforcement partners we work with at Aim4Peace are quite enlightened, innately understanding that the complex disease of violence requires comprehensive solutions.

Perhaps these forward thinking partners of ours realize that the disease of violence has existed as a societal plague since the time humans began to congregate and that it is more pervasive and egregious in contemporary American society than in most other countries of the industrialized world[i].  They know that our general response to violence, the proliferation of prisons, has not lessened the impact of this disease ravaging our communities.

Local law enforcement knows that the cure for violence in Kansas City and beyond, rests in combining evidence-based and innovative preventive public health approaches—like the Cure Violence approach–with criminal justice support.

Aim4Peace’s law enforcement partners understand the critical nature of battling violence can only be achieved by trusting its public health work force to help reduce incidences of violence.  Kansas City’s law enforcement provides a one way stream of information to Aim4Peace, calling upon our assistance when calls for service revolve around addressing a dispute between parties (with and without shots fired), which may lead to imminent or future retaliation.  The hallmark of this cross sector relationship is that Aim4Peace mutually respects the role and function of the local law enforcement, valuing their criminal justice partner’s support of public health’s ability to help cure violence.

With support from our partners in law enforcement, we achieved a 56 percent drop in homicides in Aim4Peace zones compared with slight 3 percent decrease across all of Kansas City in 2013. And that success has allowed us to grow. In 2014, we’ll expand our program with a 3-year, $1.3 million grant from the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Programs (OJJDP).

We’re thankful everyday for our innovative partnership with law enforcement that helps us silence the culture of violence in our community.

[i]             Roth (1994)