COLUMBUS, Ga. (WRBL) – The Columbus Police Department and Muscogee County Sheriffs Office is partnering with Cure Violence Columbus, to help detect and interrupt the transmission of violence.
Reggie Lewis and Cedric Hill are the founders of the organization. Lewis and Hill founded the organization in 2016. The two noticed the amount of violent crimes that were taking place in their community and wanted to do something to help put a stop to it.
When it comes to addressing violence in the community, Cure Violence has four main courses of action they take: Detect and interrupt the transmission of violence, Change the behavior of the highest risk persons, Change community norms against violence, and Hospital response to prevent retaliation, and for follow-up.
These four key components will allow trained, well-known individuals from within certain parts of the community to reach those affected by crime. They will also be able to identify those who are at high risk of joining gangs, doing drugs, being shot, or going to prison. Going along with all of this, the program wants to ensure they build cohesion. The last two components focus on training those who will be involved and gaining proper data to apply different solutions for each community. Lewis believes this is not a one size fits all approach.
“We take the numbers, we find out what kind of violent events are occurring and then we apply the appropriate solution to those events. So something that happens on the south end may be a different process than what we use on the east end,” Lewis said.
The program is looking for creditable and accountable people from those communities to help out.
Lewis believes that environmental, mental, and physical health all play a role in violence. Violence in Columbus is occurring in impoverished, low-educated, and less economically developed areas. This leads to a higher risk of health issues within those communities because of the trauma that individuals in that community are experiencing.
“We’ve seen how it can help reduce violence because we take a different approach than just a criminal justice system approach. We look at it from a health issue, as an epidemic, and then we apply health solutions to tackle the epidemic to violence,” Lewis said.
The analysis for the program will take at least a month to complete, Lewis and Hill are looking to have the analysis started in March or April. Part of the analysis will involve several meetings with Core Violence partners, donors, and Cure Violence interrupters. After the meetings and analysis have taken place, Lewis and Hill will then receive a list of areas that are high-risk and need the most attention.
“We didn’t get here overnight, so we’re not going to get out of this overnight,” Hill said.
Lewis and Hill both believe that the community will change for the better within the next six months with the help of the Columbus Police Department, the Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office, Cure Violence, and most importantly with the help of those in the community. Being from the Columbus community, Lewis says he knows where this community used to be, and where it is at now is completely different.
“Everybody is sick and tired, we’re tired of it. I’ve been dealing with law enforcement for 31 years being in and out of it for 10 and being around it for the last 20 years. I know where this community was and where it’s at today…so I know it can be changed,” Lewis said