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This Brownsville Program May Be the Cure for Gang Violence

Brownsville In Violence Out identifies high-risk youth and offers them social services and activities as an alternative to gang violence
BIVO's acknowledges its "violence interrupters."

Violence interrupters of Brownsville In Violence Out, a program that uses the cure violence model to reduce shootings by mediating conflicts and providing social services to young people, are setting out to make their streets safer, reports AMNY. 

With job training and placement, legal support and therapy, as well as activities like basketball tournaments and concert outings, BOVI aims to provide youth ages 16-24 with alternatives to gang violence.

The program, which was launched by the Brooklyn-based nonprofit CAMBA, targets two specific housing developments, the Langston Hughes and Howard houses, which have long been affected by gang-related shootings and other conflicts. Both developments are located in NYPD's 73rd Precinct, which in 2014 ranked second citywide in the number of murders.

In 2015, when the initiative was launched, there were nine shootings in the program's target zone, but the number has since steadily declined, said BIVO program manager Anthony Newerls.

"Then it went down to six [in 2016] and then it went down to zero [in 2017]," Newerls said who lives in Howard Houses. "There have been at least two shootings in the zone in 2018, but no homicides in more than 400 days."

The cure violence model was first implemented in 2009 by the Crown Heights group Save Our Streets. To stop the spread of violence, the initiative uses the methods and strategies associated with disease control —- detecting and interrupting conflicts, identifying and treating the highest risk individuals, and changing social norms.

The model has since been adopted in several other neighborhoods, including East New York and the South Bronx, where gun injuries dropped 50 percent and 37 percent, respectively. According to Wesner Pierre, CAMBA's VP of education and youth development, the program is particularly successful because the violence interrupters come from the community.

"They know a lot of the young people that are involved in the violence," Pierre said. "If something happens, we know very quickly who the entities are that are involved, whether or not there might be a retaliation, and what we could do to prevent that."

While NYPD data showed 13 homicides in 2018 in the 73rd Precinct, none have occurred in BIVO's zone.