The Virginian-Pilot — In Portsmouth, Violence Interrupters Defuse Tense Scenes Before the Bullets Fly

by Ali Sullivan
The Virginian-Pilot
April 10, 2022

… Cure Violence approaches violence as a public health problem. It figures that violence is contagious — that it infects communities. Advocates purport credible messengers can stop the transmission.

Jeffrey Butts, a researcher at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, likens it to the decades-long — and eventually successful — campaign to end smoking. “So can that strategy be used to reduce the incidence of gun violence? And that’s the big question,” Butts said.

The model is “promising,” said Butts, who has studied violence interrupters. But it can be tricky to quantify conflicts that don’t happen. Still, even a handful of conflicts defused by interrupters can prevent homicide’s repercussions — such as broken families, lost jobs, incarceration, retaliatory shootings or orphaned children, Butts said.

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Concerned citizens gather to march in the streets of Portsmouth during an organized rally against gun violence in Portsmouth, Va., on Wednesday, July 21, 2021. Darrell Redmond organized the rally. (Kristen Zeis/The Virginian-Pilot)