Problem: Young people are increasingly being shot. People ages 24 and under account for 37% of all gun related deaths.
Background: In November of 2016 our congregations voted to address violence in our community. During the listening process our congregations shared various stories about youth related gun violence, police related shootings, and general gun violence. Based on the stories and research, PACT’s violence committee decided to address gun violence with a focus on people ages 24 and under.
During the research process, PACT found:
1. There were over 680 people shot last year in Miami-Dade County. (This is not taking into account data from Miami Gardens, North Miami Beach and Homestead. These departments have not responded to the inquiries made by the Miami Herald or from PACT.)
2. 80% of all homicides since January 1st, 2011 involve guns.
3. There were 753 documented gunshots fired in unincorporated Miami-Dade County last year, and 84 of them resulted in deaths.
4. The Miami Dade Police Department and Miami Gardens Police Department stated that the majority of gun violence comes from civil disputes escalating to the point of violence or small gangs fighting for turf or respect.
5. Since January 1st, 2013, none of the Miami-Dade police departments have been in the top 60 police departments in the US for the number of people killed by police. (While police killings continue to be a problem in the U.S., based on the data and the stories we gathered from the listening process, the research committee has decided to focus on members of the community shooting other people.)
6. Police in Miami Dade have already implemented Body cams and some form of de-escalation training, which are proven to be best practices in correcting undesirable behavior.
At the Nehemiah Action: We asked and won commitments from 5 law enforcement officials to form a joint exploratory committee to research the three proven programs, determine 3 pilot neighborhoods, a timeline and budget for the implementation of the one they see as most suitable for Miami Dade County, the City of Miami, and the City of Miami Gardens.
A. “Group Violence Intervention”: This approach involves an intervention led by a three part coalition. The police departments locate the individuals who are believed to be the main people responsible for gun violence and invite them to a meeting. At this meeting, the police introduce them to victims of gun violence and people who have lost family members to gun violence and offer them significant social services as a way out of their current lifestyles. The community delivers a moral message to the perpetrators that the violence has to stop.
B. “Cure Violence”: This approach focuses on conflict resolution & intermediation with the potential violent perpetrators before conflicts escalate to the point of violence. This model hires conflict mediators who focus on changing the culture of the community. There is a similar component to the “Group Violence Intervention” strategy by offering social services to people they believe to be the main perpetrators of violence.
C. The Office of Neighborhood Safety is a model first used in Richmond CA where it reduced gun related injuries and deaths by 70%. This approach only partners with law enforcement to locate the people suspected of being the perpetrators of gun violence. Then they use a fellowship program with focused counselors who provide social services and counseling to those who are believed to be responsible for the majority of the gun violence in the community. -
Our asks were structured this way, because these three programs have one common denominator. They each focus on the very small percentage of people of the community who are responsible for the majority of the violence by offering them significant social services.