City Council votes unanimously in favor of Cure Violence program

Anti-crime program treats violence like an infectious disease

By Nick Jones - Digital producer, Kent Justice - Anchor/reporter, Jenese Harris - Reporter/anchor

JACKSONVILLE, Fla - Leaders with the Cure Violence program released its assessment Tuesday evening on the city of Jacksonville, following extensive interviews and research.

The bill to bring the program to Jacksonville received unanimous support during a City Council meeting on Tuesday night. The proposal calls for about $765,000 in funding.

"I think the program has shown its value already," said City Councilman Bill Gulliford. "We need to attack this thing (crime) at the ground level and that's what this thing (the bill) does."

The assessment was performed between Feb. 18 - 21. Leaders spoke with hundreds in the community who gave feedback about the potential for reduced violence.

Damien Cook, from the Office of Grant and Contract Compliance, told the City Council that the hope is for immediate success, mirroring what happened in New York City, Chicago and Baltimore.

"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," Cook said.

Cure Violence leaders were able to identify the hot spots for violent incidents. Over six of the the top 10 violent ZIP codes are in Zone 1, which includes Downtown, Springfield and the Eastside, and Zone 5, which includes Northwest Jacksonville, New Town and Baldwin.

The ten most violent ZIP codes, in no particular order, were identified as: 32202, 32205, 32206, 32208, 32209, 32210, 32211, 32218, 32244 and 32254.

READ IT: Cure Violence Jacksonville assessment report

"This is another important tool in the toolbox to help reduce violence throughout the city," Curry said. "We believe after reviewing the Cure Violence assessment, this will be an extremely valuable addition to our city and expect it to have a marked impact on reducing crime.”

Some Jacksonville advocates and educators told News4Jax they think the program is a good idea, but believe implementation is key. Bruce Moye, with the Eastside Brotherhood, is optimistic.

"They have a good program. They have a good blueprint," Moye said. "But the work actually comes from the people in Jacksonville."

WATCH: Advocates, educators weigh-in on crime prevention program

Moye said he has seen crime in his neighborhood and works close with the community to reduce it.

The program requires what it calls "violence interrupters." The belief is that they will be in the communities where violent crime is an issue.

"The way it is described, I think it can be effective," said Dr. Rudy Jamison with the UNF Center for Urban Education and Policy. "At the end of the day, this is about relationships and they need to extend within the community."

On Monday, Curry said Cure Violence will be in place by the summer. The program uses former convicts to reach out to at-risk young people.

Sheriff Mike Williams said the program is a proven approach to fighting crime, and he's optimistic that Cure Violence will make a difference.

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