Federal officials, community leaders and researchers are gathering in St. Louis this week to discuss a key component of the Justice Department’s plan to combat violence in the U.S: community violence intervention and prevention programs.
“We are funding programs that interrupt patterns of violence before they occur, and we are supporting initiatives that expand opportunities in communities most burdened by that violence,” Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday.
What is community violence intervention?
Community violence intervention is one of the four parts of the Justice Department’s plan to reduce violent crime in the U.S., as laid out in May 2021.
“This is the largest targeted federal investment in these strategies in history,” Amy Solomon, a department official, said Wednesday.
Community violence intervention looks different in every jurisdiction but ultimately focuses on investing in community infrastructure to expand a community’s ability to address local public safety challenges and prevent gun violence, as a “complement to law enforcement,” Solomon said.
“For too long, our society has looked to law enforcement alone to solve the problem of violence in our communities. We ask police to resolve deep, complex social challenges, primarily with the blunt instruments of arrest and incarceration,” Gupta said.
She added: “The problem of violence, including gun violence, is not a series of isolated events but so often the culmination of longstanding unmet needs in our communities.”
What does community violence intervention look like in practice?
The federal initiative aims to reach people at the highest risk of engaging in or becoming victims of violence and providing them with services, Solomon said. Many interventions are based in places like hospitals, health facilities, schools and other community spaces.
Under the initiative, three organizations – the Local Initiatives Support Corp., Metropolitan Family Services and the Latino Coalition for Community Leadership – will assist smaller community organizations, and a central resource hub will offer free training and technical assistance.
The Justice Department is expected to announce an additional $100 million in funding under the Community Violence Intervention and Prevention Initiative and solicit new grantees for 2023 in the coming weeks, Garland said.
Meanwhile, the Justice Department on Tuesday announced $231 million in 49 awards to states, territories and Washington, D.C., to fund state crisis intervention court proceedings, including extreme risk protection order programs to keep firearms out of the hands of people who pose a risk to themselves or others.