Teams from four local organizations are taking to the streets of Minneapolis, and the city is working to add two additional crews to MinneapolUS.
“The violence interrupters are people who actually go to the community and talk to suspected shooters and killers in a neighborhood and try to stop them from doing other things in the neighborhood,” said Jarmain Merritt, a program coordinator and implementation specialist on Global Violence Healing . “You can communicate with them more effectively because they once were, they were once part of the negativity in the neighborhood.”
Merritt said that respect opens the door to a change in mindset.
“I’m just showing you how to use body language and how to approach individuals in the community, how to deal with suspected perpetrators who are alleged to be high risk, how to approach them, and how to easily merge with them,” Meritt said.
“If you don’t have relationships, you can’t do this job, period,” said Trahern Pollard, founder and CEO of We Push For Peace, one of the organizations involved in MinneapolUS.
“To be honest, to speak to some of these young men and women we encounter and specifically see what their needs are,” said Pollard of the training.
And this week’s training is a one-way street.
“They will say something I have never heard before and I will say something they have never heard before,” said Pollard.
The national organization says research shows that their programs and training can help reduce violence in certain areas by up to 30%.
The Minneapolis city budget for 2021 was $ 2.5 million in ongoing funding for the Minneapolis Strategic Outreach Initiative. Of this, approximately $ 2 million will go towards contracts with organizations like Cure Violence Global that provide violence interruption services. The rest will be spent on running the initiative.