Knoxville City Council is considering whether to grant $50,000 to community nonprofits for their “violence interruption” services. The resolution would award the funds to United Way of Greater Knoxville (UWGK). According to the resolution, UWGK would appoint a committee of community leaders to determine how the $50,000 would be spent.
Violence interruption is a community-based mechanism for preventing violence by intervening in conflicts through violence interrupters. The idea is that individuals encountered by violence interrupters have greater needs that the community can meet through services and programs, therefore eliminating that individual’s need for violent crime. Last month, the Biden Administration released a statement extolling the value of community violence intervention, under which falls violence interruption mechanisms.
According to Mayor Indya Kincannon’s proposed budget, the city aims to fund up to $1 million for a Violence Interruption Fund. Just under $160,000 would go toward “personal services,” with $5,000 for supplies and over $836,000 for “services and other charges.” Kincannon specified that the $1 million would also fund a new Crime-Stoppers program with a coordinator to run it.
“Preventing violent crime is a top priority that benefits from both investment and innovative partnerships that supplement the on-going [sic] work of the Police Department,” read Kincannon’s executive summary of the budget. “[The fund] will support work by the City and its partners to implement evidence-based, community-informed strategies specifically designed to reduce homicides and potentially lethal violent crimes in Knoxville.
As part of this plan to implement violence interruption practices within public safety, Kincannon announced that the city would be creating a Violence Interruption Program Manager for Community Empowerment. This individual would serve as the middle man between various city departments and community partners.
Kincannon’s other priorities included $1,9 million for public safety partners dealing with behavioral health, drugs, family justice, and animal welfare. Additionally, the mayor allotted $100,000 for their new African American Equity Restoration Task Force and $1 million to supporting diverse businesses.
Other major Tennessee cities have initiated violence interruption programs as well. In January, Memphis launched a “Group Violence Intervention Program” to curb the increasing occurrence of gun violence.
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Corinne Murdock is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and the Star News Network. Follow her latest on Twitter, or email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Knoxville Skyline” by Nathan C. Fortner. CC BY-SA 3.0.