Action News Jax sat in on a local meeting at UF Health to discuss a new approach to stopping gun violence in Jacksonville.
Participants learned about a program being used in other cities across the country. Community activists, doctors, trauma psychologists, case workers and mentors were all seated around a table at UF Health Monday, on a mission to stop gun violence in Jacksonville.
UF Health Trauma Surgeon Dr. Marie Crandall helped to organize the meeting. She has a background in researching gun violence and the impact of community activism.
"Our communities are very problem-focused, but we would benefit from being solution-focused," Dr. Crandall said.
One possible strategy the group discussed is Cure Violence, a program that treats violence like a contagious disease and focuses on prevention. Cure Violence has been used in major cities like Baltimore, Philadelphia and Chicago.
The program uses trained staff from the community, some who were once involved in violence, to respond to hospitals and communities to act as mediators. They also work to "interrupt" conflicts or retaliation that could end in violence.
It also aims to identify people at high risk for violence and help them find productive alternatives through employment, education and social opportunities. It also involves partnerships to help promote non-violence and outreach in neighborhoods.
It's similar to the work that Diallo-Sekou is doing in the Durkeeville and Grand Park neighborhoods through an organization called The Kemetic Empire. He said while there is a lot of work to be done, he's hopeful that the meeting at UF Health is one step toward measurable action and change.
"We're hoping we can form a great partnership and we can curb or eliminate violence taking place in our city, that's the main key thing," said Diallo-Sekou.
Crandall said the group's next steps are to identify neighborhoods they will focus on and develop a full list of working partners. Crandall also plans to ask the Cure Violence National Support Team to visit Jacksonville to do an assessment.