Preventing Gun Violence Using a Community Engagement Model
Special Projects Fund
September 21, 2018
The City of Rochester suffers from extraordinary and persistent levels of serious violence.
In 2017, Rochester had a homicide rate of 13.9 per 100,000 residents, compared with a national rate of approximately 5 per 100,000. The homicide rate has remained relatively stable over the last 15 years, with an increase in the proportion attributed to gun violence. In addition to physical harm and disabling conditions, victims of gun violence can experience emotional numbing, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbances, and other disorders. Efforts taken by the Rochester Police Department to reduce retaliatory violence have shown promise, but suffer from a lack of victim and witness cooperation. This gap left by law enforcement means that a strategy of community engagement to reduce violence may be an effective, complementary approach. In 2018, NYSHealth awarded Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) a grant to support a new gun violence reduction model that uses a community engagement and hospital-based intervention designed to reduce gun violence and associated health system costs.
Under this grant, RIT will undertake a proof of concept project, partnering with Rochester General Hospital (RGH), Pathways to Peace (a local nonviolence street outreach program), and other community-based organizations specializing in victim intervention. The project will focus on an area where more than 40% of gun-related disputes occur, with a goal of reducing the cycle of escalating violence and gun victimization events. Community-based organizations will work with gun violence victims in RGH’s emergency department and tailor intervention responses based on the nature of the dispute without involving the police. Selected cases will be assigned to victim intervention specialists, who will hold ongoing reviews with the victim, make needed adjustments, and track subsequent violence associated with the dispute. Interventions will be monitored until the dispute has been resolved or is deemed to have cooled. Data will be collected and an evaluation conducted to see whether different types of victims respond to particular interventions and which factors increase the chances for a successful intervention in retaliatory disputes. If the proof of concept is successful, steps will be taken to sustain and replicate the program in Rochester and other areas.