Jacksonville, FL — After conducting an assessment back in February, the group Cure Violence says the City of Jacksonville presents a 'unique opportunity' to implement their model of reducing violence by treating it like an infectious disease.
In the newly released Jacksonville assessment report, the group determined that the Mayor's Office, the State Attorney's Office, and the Sheriff's Office all have the capacity and will to implement Cure Violence's violence prevention strategy. Cure Violence says it considers this to be one of the most critical factors in determining feasibility. In fact, the assessment says Jacksonville was the first time in Cure Violence’s history in which these three major institutions were aligned so strongly.
Cure Violence says due to the strong cooperation of these three key agencies, they expect the first phase of the program to be up and running by the end of the 2019 school year.
As part of their assessment, Cure Violence says official data clearly demonstrated there are areas within Jacksonville which have elevated levels of violence when compared to the rest of the city. Specifically, Cure Violence says 6 of the top 10 zip codes for crime were in Zone 5 and in Zone 1.
--Zone 1 (Downtown / Springfield / Eastside)
--Zone 5 (Northwest / New Town / Baldwin)
Cure Violence says there are two locations within these two zones that will serve as the first set of target areas, if the program is implemented.
As they suggest working in these zones first, Cure Violence identified two organizations they believe could serve as implementing partners in these key locations. Those two organizations are the Northwest Jacksonville Community Development Corporation (NWJCDC) and the Noah's Arc Project (NAP).
Cure Violence says while they were unable to meet with UF Health representatives, they believe it would be a major boost to have the City of Jacksonville partner with the hospital as part of this initiative. They say in their assessment, that since it appears about 80% of gunshot and other penetrating injuries present at UF Health's level one trauma unit, the hospital could play a key role in preventing any re-injuries and potential retaliatory shootings.
Cure Violence says next steps include reviewing their assessment with the City of Jacksonville and then identifying exact target areas, community based partners, and staff.
Mayor Lenny Curry expressed optimism about Cure Violence’s assessment and seemed ready to get to work.
“My top priority is public safety. This is another important tool in the toolbox to help reduce violence throughout the city. We believe after reviewing the Cure Violence assessment, this will be an extremely valuable addition to our city and expect it have a marked impact on reducing crime,” says Curry in a statement.
On Tuesday evening, the Jacksonville City Council approved putting $764,283 in to an account to be used for the initial funding of the Cure Violence program. The City says this money will be used for training and technical assistance from Cure Violence and implementation of the program at two sites.