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Justice grant for CeaseFire project against violence

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The U.S. Department of Justice has awarded two grants to CeaseFire to continue its violence intervention work in Chicago’s West Garfield Park and West Humboldt Park neighborhoods.

The grants, which total $400,000, will allow CeaseFire to keep workers on the street to intervene and mediate conflicts and to stop shootings and killings.

CeaseFire, based in the School of Public Health, takes a public health approach that treats incidents of violence as if they were an outbreak of disease.

The project uses highly trained street violence interrupters and outreach staff, public education and community mobilization to respond to outbreaks in a community.

“Today’s grant for the CeaseFire program will help strengthen the overall effort to reduce gang violence in the region,” said U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill.

“CeaseFire is an evidence-based program that really works, and we’re very pleased to see that the Justice Department is responding by providing some resources to work with it,” said U.S. Rep. Danny K. Davis, D-Chicago.

A recent three-year evaluation of the program, commissioned by the Department of Justice, validated the CeaseFire model as an intervention that reduces shooting and killings and makes communities safer.

The report, conducted by Wesley Skogan at the Institute for Policy Research at Northwestern University, said CeaseFire’s high-risk clients received a broad range of services to help with their complex problems, including assistance finding a job, continuing their education or disengaging from a gang.

In communities where it has been implemented, the CeaseFire model — which adds to the efforts of law enforcement — has averaged a 42 percent reduction in shootings and killings in its first year of operation and up to an 82 percent reduction in shootings and killings over two to five years, according to CeaseFire reports.

“We are extremely pleased to have the continued support of the Department of Justice to help to stop shootings and killings in Chicago,” said Gary Slutkin, professor of epidemiology and executive director of the Chicago Project for Violence Prevention, which runs CeaseFire.

“With this federal support, we are able to maintain the CeaseFire model on Chicago’s West Side and demonstrate the effectiveness of this public health approach to reducing violence,” he said.

The Chicago Project for Violence Prevention is also working with teams in Baltimore, Kansas City and Newark to develop programs similar to CeaseFire.

smcginn@uic.edu


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