Twin Cities Pioneer Press: Treating Violence like a Contagious Disease? Some Think this Might be the Way

by RUBÉN ROSARIO | Pioneer Press |
November 9, 2019

Maybe it’s time in St. Paul, given the recent mayhem uptick, to also think beyond biases and entrenched viewpoints, beyond the idea that one simple solution to a complicated problem will work.

Perhaps it’s time city leaders also consider checking out an intriguing public health approach with the same name — Cure Violence — that has gone national and global in recent years.

Cure Violence (first called Ceasefire Chicago) was conceived nearly two decades ago in the Windy City by Gary Slutkin, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois.

St. Paul Mayor Melvin Carter listens in on a conversation about gun violence during a community meeting his office organized at Central Baptist Church on Nov. 7, 2019. (Nick Woltman / Pioneer Press

… But the success depends on training the right people and consistent funding streams. Places that have met with high turnover in personnel and dried-up funding resources have not shown good results. Slutkin and his nonprofit, however, show through convincing data how shootings in Chicago in recent years have dipped and spiked whenever that city has adequately funded or cut back in certain areas.

As Jeffrey Butts, director of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice research and evaluation center in New York City, noted four years ago, “the public health approach of CV currently merits the label ‘promising’ rather than ‘effective.’”

“CV, however, offers something to communities that other well-known violence reduction models cannot,” he added. “It is potentially very cost-efficient, and it places less demand on the political and administrative resources of law enforcement and the larger criminal justice system. For this reason alone, the model deserves additional investment and investigation.”

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