Mayor’s Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence, Cure Violence Announcement
Toledo Mayor Wade Kapszukiewicz today announced the next stage of the Mayor’s Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence, which includes the launch of the Cure Violence program locally, and introduced the city’s newly hired violence interrupters.
“Last September, we made the decision to attack gun violence as a public health crisis,” Mayor Kapszukiewicz said. “There are a lot of steps involved in treating gun violence as a public health crisis, and we have sought to be aggressive and creative. We have seen gun violence spike across the country, and it is clearly a byproduct of the pandemic. As a part of our multi-component strategy, we have engaged with Cure Violence, a global organization dedicated to creating safer communities.”
The city has hired new staff members to work directly in targeted neighborhoods, the mayor said.
“Community-based alternatives like Cure Violence have been effective at reducing violence, and Toledo is adding this model to our program to reduce violence. Our efforts of course involve law enforcement and hiring more police officers, but it also includes proactive and forward-thinking efforts like expanding summer youth programming, such as we did this year, and adopting the Cure Violence model,” he said. “We are starting in the Junction and Englewood neighborhoods, and will expand to east and north Toledo neighborhoods.”
William Gauldin, Gerald Carter, and Issac Miles have been hired as violence interrupters. LaMishyia Hudson has been hired as an outreach specialist, and will directly supervise the violence interrupters. The four new employees will primarily work evening and night hours, and have office space in the Frederick Douglass Community Center.
“Our goal is to bring down gun violence in Toledo,” Mr. Miles said. “I was once on one side of the fence of violence and now, I am on the other side, trying to prevent it… I am so passionate about it, and just like everyone else here, I want to do my best for the City of Toledo.”
The four new employees are part of a new initiative called “Save Our Community,” which will operate under the Mayor’s Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence.
“We are creating a collaborative effort because it will take a community effort to address what we are seeing,” said JoJuan Armour, commissioner of the Mayor's Initiative to Reduce Gun Violence.
The responsibilities of the four new staff members include mediating conflicts, preventing retaliatory violence, and working with residents. They will not be involved with police operations.
“This program is about changing community norms about violence,” Mr. Armour said. “Their primary focus is stopping the spread of violence. They know the people in the neighborhood because that is where they live, and they are passionate about changing community norms about violence.”