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Blue City Tried To ‘Cure’ Violence Through Community ‘Interrupters’. It Didn’t Go As Planned |

A “Cure Violence” (CV) pilot program in St. Louis, Missouri, did not succeed in reducing crime or gun violence in the city, a July study from Washington University’s Institute for Public Health found.

St. Louis established the CV initiative in 2020 in three of the city’s neighborhoods as an attempt to stop gun violence with trained “interrupters,” according to The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. The program only improved one of the three areas it was implemented in, the study determined.

“It is estimated that approximately 12 instances of violence were prevented since the start of CV in Wells-Goodfellow,” the study reads. “There is no evidence of a significant decrease in violence in the Dutchtown or Walnut Park sites as a result of the CV program . . . With the exception of decreased violent crime rates in Wells-Goodfellow, there is an overall lack of evidence for the effectiveness of CV.”

St. Louis modeled its CV initiative after similar programs in large cities, such as Chicago, the Post-Dispatch reported. CV hosts community events and provides “violence interrupters” to mediate interpersonal conflicts, according to the study.

“There’s something odd about essentially communicating to a community, ‘You do it! Don’t rely on the police.’ Even though [the police] are supposed to do that,” Richard Rosenfeld, who opposes CV and is the former president of the American Society of Criminology, told the Daily Caller News Foundation. “For decades, the black community has been suspicious of doctors and hospitals because of their history of exploitation . . . But no one has ever suggested that the black community should take care of medical problems on its own. The response instead has been to take care of medical problems without discrimination or exploitation.”

CV workers sometimes used their own money to help community members because of lack of resources, according to the study. Workers also said that they were sometimes attacked when they tried to “de-escalate” situations, including two individuals who were injured after a pair of armed gunmen shot at them approximately 40 times.

Many people who lived in the neighborhoods where CV was being piloted did not know the program existed, according to the study. Residents advocated for a stronger police presence in high-crime areas when researchers asked them how St. Louis should try to “cure” crime.

“I think it [curing violence] would probably look like something like getting the neighbors involved,” Sidney, a resident in a St. Louis CV neighborhood, told researchers. “Having some police presence. . . Talking about getting people more safety-conscious and more responsible for their actions or something like that. . . If doing something of a violent nature, they have to be held accountable for that.”

St. Louis has spent $7 million on CV over the past three years, and recently provided an additional $1.9 million to contractors to continue the program for another year, the Post-Dispatch reported.

The St. Louis Mayor’s Office and Washington University’s Institute for Public Health did not immediately respond to the DCNF’s request for comment.

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