COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - Columbus City Council is moving ahead with plans to award $25,000 to a crime prevention program.
‘Cure Violence Columbus’ will conduct a two-month assessment of crime in the city. Once that’s complete, it’s expected to get another $500,000 for future use. The assessment will consist of community outreach, training and getting to know the community and culture of Columbus by the Cure Violence Global team.
A group of citizens, that include, a former police officer, a funeral home director, two epidemiologists, and a few pastors are spearheading the effort. Cure Violence Global officials say the way to combat violence in the community is by treating it like an illness.
“When we understand violence as a contagious health problem, that the people are wrapped up and involved in violence, that they themselves have a health problem, and are in need of healing, we cannot only overcome the problem, but we can understand the problem differently and we can understand the people differently,” said Charles Ransford, Sr., the director of science and policy for Cure Violence Global. “What we do as an approach is the same things you would do for any other contagious problem. We use outreach workers who can stop the transmission of the problem, other words, they can mediate a conflict before it turns to violence.”
Those outreach workers are called interrupters, people in the community who were either once impacted or committed violent acts. They would essentially “keep the peace” in the identified areas where crime tends to be prevalent. Interrupters would also be in hospitals to be the first point of contact when someone is shot or stabbed in hopes of preventing retaliatory actions.
Reggie Lewis, a former police officer, and Cedric Hill, a funeral home director, are members of the Curve Violence Columbus group along with two epidemiologists and a few pastors, spearheading the effort to implement the initiative in the city. They saw a need for change and cared enough to try and make a difference.
We’ve been part of some of those funerals where some of the victims were shot, and to sit in those funerals and listen to the mothers cry will really change your heart and change your perspective on we’ve got to do something,” said Lewis. “Because cure violence is community-based, but it’s a research-based and data driven model. So, we have to have people who are out on the streets, who are out in the hospitals talking with these victims, and as well talking with these families to reduce violence.”
For more information on Cure Violence Columbus click here.