Local leaders working on new initiative to combat violence

Published 3:45 pm Sunday, September 26, 2021

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Forsyth County Government, the City of Winston-Salem and other partner agencies are joining together with community-based organizations and individuals to combat gun and gang violence.

Local leaders have been preparing for months for a site visit to explore implementing the Cure Violence model in Forsyth County. Cure Violence first launched in one of the most violent communities in Chicago and reduced shootings by 67% in its first year. Cure Violence has helped set up evidence-based violence interruption programs in many cities, including Jacksonville, Florida; Atlanta; New Orleans; Baltimore; New York City; Washington, D.C.; St. Louis; Camden, N.J.; and more locally in Charlotte, Durham and Greensboro.

Cure Violence staff are expected to begin the site visit within the next few weeks. The site visit will include data collection and analysis on potential target areas, assessments of local institutions and identifying additional partners for implementation. Once the assessment is complete, community-based organizations and individuals will play a vital role in making Cure Violence work. Both city and county governments have already set aside funds for this initiative.

Cure Violence is an evidence-based model that stops the spread of violence by using the methods and strategies associated with disease control: detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals and changing social norms.

It uses trained violence interrupters and outreach workers to identify and mediate potentially lethal conflicts and to follow up to ensure that a conflict does not reignite. Trained, culturally-appropriate outreach workers will work with those at highest risk to make them less likely to commit violence and help them obtain services they need, like job training and drug treatment. It also engages residents and local organizations to speak out against violence.

Organizations involved in the current planning phase include the City of Winston-Salem and Forsyth County Government, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools, Winston-Salem Police Department, Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office, Forsyth County District Attorney’s Office, the Juvenile Crime Prevention Council, and local courts.