Cure Violence program could help fix Grand Rapids community and police relations

Feb 6, 2018

Grand Rapids Police Department
Credit Lindsey Smith / Michigan Radio

Some Grand Rapids community members want the city to adopt a national violence prevention program.

Cure Violence is a program used to combat gun violence in several major cities like Chicago, Baltimore and New York.

The idea is simple, people in communities affected by gun violence mediate issues between people within their community.

Charlie Ransford, Director of Science and Policy with Cure Violence, says the program views gun violence as a health crisis instead of a crime problem.

“We look at it as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue because we understand that people are acting violently because they’ve been exposed to violence and are experience trauma,” Ransford said.

Every city that has "correctly" implemented Cure Violence has seen a reduction in gun violence, says Ransford. He says to do it the correct way, people from the community need to be involved.

“They have the knowledge of what's going on in the community, they have the influence among the people in the community to really make a change here,” Ransford says.

Grand Rapids set aside a million dollars per year for five years to use on community and police relations. Ransford hopes some of those funds will be used to adopt the program.

According to an independent study from The Research and Evaluation Center at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, the program has improved community police relations in many cities.

J.D. Chapman, a community activist in Grand Rapids, says if the program lowers violence in certain neighborhoods, it would help the police do a better job.

“It would free that time up for them to really do some real community policing where they engage with the community and get to know the community,” Chapman said.

Grand Rapids Police have come under scrutiny after multiple incidents of officers holding young black kids at gunpoint.