Cure Violence has made an impact in communities in several cities. See examples of how our approach has reduced violence and helped transform lives.
Sidley Austin, LLP / Cure Violence Board Member
Scott Lassar is a partner in the Sidley Austin, LLP Chicago office. Prior to joining the firm, Mr. Lassar was the United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois in Chicago. As the district’s top federal law enforcement official, Mr. Lassar managed 130 assistant U.S. attorneys, who handled civil litigation and criminal investigations and prosecutions involving white collar fraud, public corruption, narcotics trafficking and violent crime. Mr. Lassar has been a Cure Violence / Cure Violence Board Member since 2000.
“I was on the board because I was a U.S. Attorney. It’s been ten years since I was a U.S. Attorney, and I voluntarily stayed on the board because I think the model does work.
“The goal of Cure Violence is to reduce violence and save lives, and they do that with their techniques. One technique is the use of interrupters, who talk to the gang members when there is a situation that may result in a shooting, and another is to try and change the culture of violence in the street; to have people in the community turn out against violence. This combination has been shown to work.”
Chief Charlie Beck
Los Angeles Police Department
If you are willing to use resources other than traditional law enforcement – whether interrupters, intervention workers or school-based programs – then you can change a neighborhood.
Chief Charlie Beck was appointed Chief of the Los Angeles Police Department in November 2009. Chief Beck oversees the third largest police department in the United States, managing 10,000 sworn officers and 3,000 civilian employees, encompassing an area of 473 square miles and a population of approximately 3.8 million people. Having facilitated his predecessor’s successful reengineering and reform effort, Chief Beck continues to evolve and refine those strategies to further the Department’s ascendancy to the pinnacle of 21st Century Policing. Major components of this endeavor include the mitigation of crime, the reduction of gang violence and the continuation of the reforms that brought the Department into compliance with the Consent Decree.
If that’s your only avenue to deal with the problem, then you won’t solve it.
Los Angeles’ Gang Reduction and Youth Development’s (GYRD) Intervention model was inspired by the Cure Violence model.
“I think ‘public health model’ is the best phrase to use for a model that looks at causes, root factors and environmental concerns. That’s the way the public health community looks at disease control, but it’s also the way anyone who solves problems looks at problem solving. Cure Violence takes a holistic approach: you look at the environment, at the individual and at all factors involved, rather than just focusing on the symptoms. The symptom of all of the problems is gun violence. If you just treat the symptom, you aren’t likely to get to the root cause.
“If you are willing to use resources other than traditional law enforcement – whether interrupters, intervention workers or school-based programs – then you can change a neighborhood. You can make significant change that doesn’t require constant, additional police resources to maintain. If you do it right, you can actually reduce police presence.
“The LA police department arrests about 150,000 people per year. If that’s your only avenue to deal with the problem, then you won’t solve it. You decide how you’re going to spend your public safety fund and what approach that you’re going to take. I’ve seen this work; I’m in the middle of watching this work. I firmly believe in it. What kind of policing do you want?”
Reverend Marshall Hatch
New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Chicago
When somebody is a victim of violence in a community like this, you end up with two victims. The perpetrator’s life is pretty much over too.
Marshall Elijah Hatch, Sr. has been the Senior Pastor of the New Mount Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church of West Garfield since 1993. His spiritual development began in the Shiloh Baptist Church under the pastorate of his father, the late Reverend Elijah J. Hatch. In 1985 he was ordained and appointed as the Pastor of Commonwealth Baptist Church of North Lawndale. In the summer of 1998, he was awarded the Charles E. Merrill Fellowship of Harvard Divinity School in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Rev. Hatch’s New Mount Pilgrim Church operates in Cure Violence’s first neighborhood, run by Cure Violence.
“This was the first Cure Violence community, West Garfield Park. This is probably one of the poorest west side community areas in Chicago. We reduced violence in partnership with Cure Violence. The first year there was a 67 percent reduction, which is really quite dramatic.
“During the lean times [when funding was unavailable], Cure Violence workers volunteered their time because they were that passionate about it. It was about more than money. It had to do with the sense of worth that people felt, in that what they were doing was really important in the community.
“Interrupters interrupt a crime when the dynamics are in motion for it to happen. So, it’s another dimension of not just law enforcement but crime prevention. These interrupters are real heroes in the communities. What we see on the news happens when nobody interrupted the violence, and what we don’t see on the news is often because the interrupters were successful in preventing a shooting from happening in the first place.
“When somebody is a victim of violence in a community like this, you end up with two victims. The perpetrator’s life is pretty much over too.”
Prof. Daniel Webster
Deputy Director, Johns Hopkins Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence
Daniel W. Webster, ScD, MPH is Professor and Deputy Director of the Center for the Prevention of Youth Violence at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
If you want to reduce gun violence, you have to reach out to those most likely to be involved and gain their trust.
Dr. Webster has published numerous articles on youth gun acquisition and carrying, the prevention of gun violence, intimate partner violence, and the prevention of youth violence. He has studied the effects of a variety of violence prevention interventions including state firearm policies, community programs to change social norms concerning violence, public education and advocacy campaigns, and school-based curricula. Dr. Webster teaches “Understanding and Preventing Violence” and also directs the Injury Control Certificate Program at Johns Hopkins.
Moreover, violence interrupters are asked to go into the most dangerous neighborhoods, in the most dangerous cities in the U.S., at the most dangerous times, to get people to stop shooting each other. And they’re going in unarmed. Yet, they go in, and they do it. And it works. It’s really changed my view about what’s possible.
Dr. Webster led the evaluation of Baltimore’s Cure Violence replication, Safe Streets.
“Baltimore first tried the model in McElderry Park in 2007. I felt that it would take a long time for a program of this kind to take hold. I thought, ‘Yeah it will work, but it will take a while.’ They really had the right kind of people leading the program, and within a matter of weeks, they were mediating disputes between a number of groups that had been feuding. I sat in on a meeting discussing what went down in those mediations. I just shook my head in disbelief at what they could do, that the program staff were able to sit down and get people to work out their differences. Following that set of mediations that community did not have a homicide for nearly two years.
“Some people are uncomfortable paying ex-gang members to hang out with current gang members. But it’s not that unlike undercover police work. If you want to reduce gun violence, you have to reach out to those most likely to be involved and gain their trust. Undercover police do this in order to lock people up. Outreach workers and violence interrupters hang out with gangs to stop violence. Moreover, violence interrupters are asked to go into the most dangerous neighborhoods, in the most dangerous cities in the U.S., at the most dangerous times, to get people to stop shooting each other. And they’re going in unarmed. Yet, they go in, and they do it. And it works. It’s really changed my view about what’s possible.”
Deputy Superintendent Jerry Chlada, Jr.
Deputy Superintendent Jerry Chlada, Jr. has served with the Cicero Police Department since 1995. Deputy Superintendent Chlada oversees the Gang Crimes Tactical Unit which consists of 29 officers who main function is gang suppression. His accomplishments include Officer of the Year 1999, Cicero Lions Club award for Invaluable service 1999, Cease Fire [Cure Violence] Leadership recognition for anti-gang efforts 2008, Youth Cross Roads- Protector of youth award 2008, Department Commendation for Dedication and Service 2009, and The Effective Police Relationship Award from Cure Violence in November of 2011.
Deputy Superintendent Chlada has been involved with the operation of Cure Violence Cicero, a Cure Violence replication site, since 2005.
“Cicero has seen a dramatic drop in violent crime numbers in the past five years. From May 2000-2005 there were 223 gang shootings and approximately 34 gang-related homicides. From May of 2005 – 2010 the numbers were decreased to 120 gang related shootings and 17 gang related homicides. The Cure Violence Cicero program has been a big help. When there are problems in the community between the different gangs, we sit down with Cure Violence Cicero workers and get them on board. Their interrupters and outreach workers get in the middle the conflict and calm the storms before they erupt into bigger problems. They are a great asset.
“Both groups, Cure Violence Cicero and the gang unit, were feeling each other out at the beginning. We wondered how far the relationship would go, but we’ve come to realize that both parties have a lot of respect for the work that each does.
“Cure Violence Cicero workers are able to get deep into problems; people are willing to talk to them that aren’t willing to talk to the police department. Cure Violence Cicero handles these problems, they get this information and they calm the storms by themselves without bringing it back to the police. We tell them where there’s a problem, they go in and take care of the problem, and the only report we get back is ‘problem’s been settled.’ If you look at the numbers, you could definitely say that the community is a safer place, and Cure Violence Cicero’s a big part of that.”
Andrea (Andy) Zopp
CEO, Chicago Urban League
I know Cure Violence is effective, because in 2008, the Cure Violence site had funding issues; its funding was cut. In some neighborhoods that summer, in particular Roseland on the south side, the shooting went up, dramatically. It was a very vivid example of what happens when the workers are present and not present.
Andrea Zopp was appointed President and CEO of the venerable Chicago Urban League, which works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans, in September 2010. Before her appointment to the Chicago Urban League, Ms. Zopp was executive vice president and general counsel at the Exelon Corporation. Prior to joining Exelon, Ms. Zopp was senior vice president, general counsel and corporate secretary of Sears Holdings Corporation, and a vice president, deputy general counsel in the law department at Sara Lee Corporation. She also served as a partner in the litigation department of the law firm of Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal. Ms. Zopp was the first woman and African American to serve as the First Assistant State’s Attorney in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office. She has been a Cure Violence Board Member since 2007.
“I think that the Cure Violence model works best when it works closely with law enforcement, because law enforcement is also based in the community, and because law enforcement is ‘the enforcer,’ if you will. It’s the partnership that is most effective.
“Sometimes they know that it’s not going to be successful, and they can communicate that to the police so the police know that there is a risk of danger in a certain area. The police can beef up security and be more responsive, because they can’t cover every area. If there is a strong flow of communication, both sides can be more effective, and that’s when it becomes really powerful. It really is the community coming together to stop violence in all parts.
“When people raise the question of the Cure Violence model accepting gang activity, I say that in the process of stopping a violent act from occurring, Cure Violence focuses on what’s wrong with violent behavio