Jacksonville Mayor Lenny Curry says he’s ready to invest in a new approach to addressing violence.
Curry has set aside $7,500 of his mayor’s contingency fund to pay for an assessment from an organization called Cure Violence.
He said it tries to stop the spread of violence by treating it like a disease.
“So treating it like an epidemic, treating it like a disease, treating it like a health issue… you look at the causes, like you would a disease or an epidemic, and you try to disrupt those causes,” said Curry.
Curry hopes Cure Violence will arrive within the next few weeks. He says he plans to make the assessment results public before determining next steps.
The mayor doesn’t know yet what the cost of services would be. That will depend on the assessment. But he said several members of the philanthropic and business communities have told him they’re ready to help.
Cure Violence says it uses a data-driven, research-based, community-centric approach. It uses five core components:
1. Detect potentially violent events and interrupt them to prevent violence through trained credible messengers
2. Provide ongoing behavior change and support to the highest-risk individuals through trained credible messengers
3. Change community norms that allow, encourage and exacerbate violence in chronically violent neighborhoods to healthy norms that reject the use of violence.
4. Continually analyze data to ensure proper implementation and identify changes in violence patterns and levels.
5. Provide training and technical assistance to workers, program managers and implementing agency covering the necessary skills to implement the model correctly’
The program has been used in other U.S. cities including Chicago, New York City, Philadelphia and Baltimore, according to the organization.
Curry’s announcement is part a series of recent steps to combat violence in Jacksonville. The City of Jacksonville’s Kids Hope Alliance is giving out mini-grants totaling $364,000 in an effort to stem the tide of youth violence.
At the same time, Jacksonville is putting together a crime and safety task force. The volunteer body will be charged with finding ways to coordinate programs and funding to make the city safer.
Curry said the contract is being finalized for the Cure Violence assessment. “I’d like them in in a matter of weeks. And then push them to get the assessment done as quickly as they can. That, I think, is a few weeks. And then make decisions from there,” said Curry.
The moves come after several high profile shootings in Jacksonville, including six people being shot near TIAA Bank Field, one killed and two injured after a Raines High School football game and the mass shooting at The Jacksonville Landing.