WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — A national crime prevention group with a positive track record in the Triad is setting up shop in Winston-Salem.
Winston-Salem city council members approved a three-year partnership with Cure Violence.
The city is using coronavirus relief funds to pay for the $750,000 project.
The group targets areas with high violent crime rates and deploys violence interrupters and caseworkers who know the area. The goal is to form connections with people who are most likely to commit the crimes and set them on a different path.
“We are getting ready to hire six or seven violence interrupters that will be working with this program and move right into the highest crime areas of the city,” said Winston-Salem Mayor Allen Joines.
The city is hoping to hire people who know the area well, live there or work with non-profits already supporting people in the community.
After assessing crime hot spots in the city, leaders will focus on the Piedmont Circle and Cleveland Avenue areas over the next three years.
A Cure Violence coalition exists in Greensboro and is managed by Ingram Bell.
According to Bell, the areas where Cure Violence works have seen a reduction in violent crime over the past year.
“It’s going to be amazing for Winston-Salem,” Bell said. “It’s easier for us to talk to us, versus talking to the police because the police are reactive instead of proactive, so we’re there before anything happens, so we can curb the violence before some of this escalates into a bigger issue of a homicide.”
The city is also hoping to establish the program within area hospitals to interrupt and intercept retaliation crimes before they happen.
“Once someone is shot, both sides lose, so there’s no reason to continue that cycle, so let’s stop it at the head. And if we catch them at the hospital, it’s easier to have a conversation with them and talk them down,” Bell said.
According to Mayor Joines, if the city sees a significant reduction in violent crime, they will continue the partnership beyond three years.
Leaders hope to have violence interrupters out in the community by the end of the summer.