A Chicago-based nonprofit that promises to curb violent crime got the greenlight to roll out its program in two parts of Jacksonville.
The Jacksonville City Council this week approved $764,823 in funding for Cure Violence to target areas that the organization identified as hot spots for violence.
Cure Violence recommended setting up shop in Zones 1 and 5, which include parts of Northwest Jacksonville and the Eastside. Those two zones have six of the 10 most violent ZIP codes in the county.
Damien Cook, who headed the assessment for the city of Jacksonville, told the City Council that he’s optimistic Cure Violence will see success.
“We’ve been trying to go with the roots of it, as many communities have been. This is going to get straight to the point of it and then work with all those other efforts that are working to try and reduce the violence,” he said.
Cook said the funding, which is intended to cover the first year’s cost, will directly go into an operational account, so Cure Violence can move swiftly.
In an effort to address the recent uptick in the murder rate, city leaders invited Cure Violence to assess if the program could work in Jacksonville.
So far, 38 people have been murdered in Jacksonville this year, according to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office.
Cure Violence works by hiring what it calls “credible messengers,” people who live in high-crime areas and are already known to their communities. They are trained to mediate conflict without police intervention.
The model has seen success in other parts of the country, including New York, Chicago and Baltimore.
City Councilman Bill Gulliford said he’s eager for the program to get underway.
“We need to attack this at the ground level, and that’s what this program does. It gets at the ground level. And I think it’s a good thing,” he said. “I think it’s gonna be a help our efforts to change the culture.”
Cure Violence is expected to get the program running by the summer.