To interrupt violence in Kansas City, Aim4Peace believes that you must have your doctorate in “Streetology.” This means that with training and a research-based approach, the best people to intervene and prevent violent crime are those who were once the perpetrators.
This method of violence prevention is profiled in the Frontline documentary The Interrupters, which aired on KCPT on February 14, 2012. The film follows the courageous work of the CeaseFire violence prevention project, which treats the violence plaguing some of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods like an infectious disease. The Interrupters illustrates that much like a major health epidemic, shootings and retaliatory violence can spread through a community infectiously.
In many US cities, violence is considered a major public health issue for urban areas where homicide is a leading cause of death and portions of the population even expect that they will die as a result of violent crime.
CeaseFire uses the following three-pronged approach, which is akin to public health methods of controlling diseases:
- Identification & detection
- Interruption, Intervention, & risk reduction
- Changing behavior and norms
Using this public health approach, CeaseFire has effectively been able to reduce the number of homicides and shootings in several of Chicago’s roughest neighborhoods. Kansas City’s Aim4Peace, which was founded in 2008, uses the CeaseFire model and focuses its efforts on the approximately 30 square-mile area of the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department’s East Patrol. For the past 20 years the East Patrol has had the highest number of violent crimes, drive-by shootings and homicides in the city. Currently Aim4Peace has five mediators, who work directly to interrupt violence. Last November, Aim4Peace lost one of their own when, according to an article in the Kansas City Star, Aim4Peace mediator Terrance Jackson was gunned down while working.
Aside from Chicago and Kansas City, the only other city with a violence prevention group using the CeaseFire approach is Safe Streets project in Baltimore.
Learn more about Aim4Peace, volunteer opportunities and sign a commitment to peace on their website.