On Patrol With Chicago’s Last Violence Interrupters:
Cure Violence has shown promise in reducing violent crime. But with its funding slashed in its home city, a few remaining foot soldiers are struggling to make a difference in neighborhoods gripped by fear
Chicago outreach worker Francisco Sanchez had been home from work only a few minutes when his cell phone rang again. It was a little after 3 a.m. You need to head back out, the caller said. Three people just got shot on your block. Sanchez walked toward the red and blue flashing police lights, looking for familiar faces in the crowd. As a violence interrupter in Chicago, his job is to use his ties in southwest Chicago — and his credibility as a onetime gang leader — to stop shootings before they multiply. In a case like the one he was fielding now, that meant finding out who the victims were, and making sure their friends didn’t hatch a plan to retaliate.
… Charles Ransford, policy director for Cure Violence, said the group’s credibility with the community depends on its independence from law enforcement. “If we were to be talking to the police, our workers would no longer have the trust and faith of the people they work with, and it would put their lives in danger,” he said.
There is a constant struggle between street-work models that favor some cooperation with police, and those that favor total detachment, said Jeffrey Butts, a professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice who is studying the effectiveness of Cure Violence. Butts said it’s not necessary to choose one or the other.
Also published by: