Smart on Crime in Waterloo Region


Smart Link of the Day: The Interrupters

The Interrupters, has been getting a LOT of press lately. That's not why I'm writing about it here as the 'Smart Link of the Day'. I'm writing about this film because it showcases the absolutely innovative approach of Chicago's Ceasefire program to curb gun related shootings and killings in that city. Since being released in August 2011, The Interrupters has been screened in almost 200 locations across the United States, Canada, the UK and Australia.

This film follows three Ceasefire "violence interrupters", Ameena Matthews, Cobe Williams and Edi Bocanegra, as they go about their daily work of literally, and physically breaking the cycle of violence in their neighbourhoods. These are some of the bravest community workers I have ever seen. You can catch the film preview below or watch the full feature film that aired on CBC's The Passionate Eye.



When traditional approaches no longer seemed to work, Ceasefire founder, Gary Slutkin, took a public health perspective when designing the program. As an epidemiologist, he came to believe that violence mimics the spread of infectious diseases and so, could be 'treated' in a similar way; "go after the most infected, and stop the infection at its source". And it appears to be working. Early research from the Department of Justice on the effectiveness of Chicago's Ceasefire program found the program to be effective with significant and moderate to large impacts.

What does that really mean with respect to decreased shootings and killings? Let the data speak for itself. 

  • 41-73% drops in shootings and killings in CeaseFire zones.
  • 16- 35% drop in shootings directly attributable to CeaseFire.
  • 100% reductions in retaliation murders in 5 of 8 neighbourhoods.

You can read more about the program results here.

I don't know about you, but I would say this seriously fits the bill as a 'smart on crime' approach. It is rooted in evidence based practice. It is built on partnership, collaboration and cooperation. Its social change orientation makes an investment in actions that create sustainable change to root causes. It adapts and responds to the needs and trends of the social community. It is widely and broadly supported by all corners of the community, from the grassroots to the highest levels of decision making.

Smart on crime, indeed. Now go watch the film, then share it with a friend or a group of youth.



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