Treating violent crime as a public health hazard

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind.-- As Metro Police continue their investigation into the story of an overnight shooting victim at a west side gas station and the company that makes the popular AR-15 semi-automatic rifle announces it is suspending production for consumer sales, two public meetings proposed tackling violent crime in Indianapolis in non-traditional interrupter fashion.

During the Patachou Foundation’s Speakers Forum at the Toby Theater in Newfields, Marcus McAllister of Cure Violence Global of Chicago described taking on violence as if it was a public health hazard.

“You have to interrupt the transmission, you have to change the norms, you have to identify those that are the highest transmitters and then you need to change the community norm,” said McAllister. “Let's say you’re upset or a young boy’s upset at somebody, he comes back and he tells his friends and they don’t even know the situation but immediately they’re infected, meaning they’re taking on his anger or whatever he feels and these things are going on too often.”

McAlister said so-called credible messengers are dispatched to the street, to act as a treatment or inoculation of a community beset by violence.

“We teach them and train them on methods on how to mediate, how to pay attention to when something’s gonna happen like an outbreak and so our staff has the training to identify who has the propensity to be violence, who has been violent in the past and start working with these individuals to change their norms,” he said.

McAllister said the public safety approached was adopted by Cure Violence Global founder Dr. Gary Slutkin after his experience in treating epidemics overseas.

“It should be managed more by the health sector because it has the same traits. It clusters like a disease, it spreads from one person to the next, you can influence others to get angry.”

During the LIVE Free Town Hall at Witherspoon Presbyterian Church, members of the Hogsett administration announced that two additional peacemakers will be hired to fan out onto Indianapolis streets to advise residents of violence reduction strategies.

“GVI stands for Gun Violence Intervention,” said Rena Allen of Faith Indiana, “and what it does is identifies the shooters within the community who is most likely to commit a murder and our goal is to prevent and give them another pathway out of the street life and give them the resources to lead them into another productive life citizen.

“At risk can be someone that is probably like 14 to 15 all the way up to 35 because more than likely the shooter is going to be someone who doesn’t have an education or doesn’t know how to get back into the community, can result into the way of life mental health illnesses that play a role in at, drug or alcohol,” said Allen. “We want to see them live. We don’t want to see them die. Our grave is full of enough and the cemeteries and the funeral homes are making money right now and so our goal is to reduce that.”

IMPD reported that a man walked to the Marathon station at West 38th Street and High School Road overnight and said that he was shot in the arm at another location.

The manufacturer of the popular AR-15 rifle, Colt, has announced its suspending production of the weapon for public sale.

Colt said in a statement that it will continue to supply the military and law enforcement markets.

The Connecticut-based gun maker said it already has an excess of AR-15s on hand to meet consumer demands.

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