“Last Saturday night, three gunmen ran onto the 2000 block of Second Street in Central City, looking for a young man who had stolen a car earlier that week,” nola.com reports. “Neighbors say that the trio . . . aimed their semi automatics toward a group of men playing cards on top of a plastic trash cart. Bullets injured one of the card players in the leg and, on nearby porches, tore off part of a man’s ear and hit a woman in the abdomen.” Sounds like a job for the police, eh?

The incident drew a quick response from a promising new initiative called Solutions Not Shootings, which approaches gun violence like a deadly disease and aims to stem its spread. It is modeled after the nationally acclaimed CeaseFire model, which some credit with drastically reducing gun violence in Chicago.

When a news story labels a new program “promising” whilst saying that “some” unspecified group of individuals think it’s “the” answer to a particular problem, what they’re really saying is . . .

“There is no data to support the conclusion that this idea has any merit whatsoever but I don’t want to ruin the main thrust of the story by getting into a digression so let’s just assume it’s the gospel truth and get on with it.”

And why wouldn’t we? Opposing a new initiative to curb gun violence is like grabbing your crotch and intentionally singing the national anthem off-key before a major league baseball game (only worse ’cause a liberal did that). Especially as there’s a PC sub-plot: rehabilitating criminals into community organizers. Sorry, “violence interrupters.”

New Orlean’s Solutions Not Shootings (SNS) isn’t making a big deal of this aspect of the program—even though it’s the cornerstone of the entire initiative. To sidestep questions about the wisdom of hiring convicted criminals to “defuse” inter-gang violence, SNS’s website couches the ex-con part of the program in social services gobbledygook:

SNS seeks to stop shootings and killings in New Orleans using a unique combination of outreach work and case management, conflict mediation, community mobilization, and public education.

In other words, SNS pays ex-cons to try to get the bad guys not to shoot each other. Again. Which is fair enough, I suppose, aside from one little wrinkle:

“We have a very tight focus,” said August Collins Sr., who has helped shape the program through his employer, the Youth Empowerment Project, a partner in the Central City pilot. The program’s staff doesn’t give tips to police, Collins said. They’re not there to stop the drug trade or whatever else is going on in the neighborhood. All they want to do is stop the next shooting.

“It’s really much more about prevention,” said Dr. Karen DeSalvo, the city’s health commissioner.

Why do I get the feeling that this SNS deal puts New Orleans on a slippery slope? Under this scheme, a non-governmental organization will be paying convicted criminals to schmooze with perps. While everyone assumes these violence interrupters will be working for the community’s well-being, will they? Chances are they’ll identify with the criminals, and do what they can to help them.

Does that mean they’ll be advising perps to turn themselves in to the police? Hardly. That would eliminate the violence interrupters’ entree into the gangs’ inner circle. So what does it mean? What exactly will these interrupters be doing, and who will make sure that what they’re doing is a good thing, not a bad thing?

It seems that the violence interrupters will be immune from police interrogation. Legally, they should have no immunity. But as Dr. DeSalvo’s support indicates, the SNS will have the political juice to shield their ex-cons from police unhappy with the idea of ex-cons shielding dangerous criminals from investigation, arrest, conviction and incarceration.

Perhaps now would be a good time to mention that SNS—like all the rest of these “violence interrupter” programs—is funded by tax dollars.

Solutions Not Shootings will begin hiring within weeks, as soon as the city extends a $250,000 cooperative-endeavor agreement for the program’s first year of outreach, which includes violence interrupters.

I thought the cops and the courts–answerable to the public—are supposed to be the real violence interrupters. Yes, The Big Easy’s police force has been thoroughly discredited and dishonored. But turning to a quasi-governmental organization to address gun violence is not the answer.

And while giving convicted criminals a chance to redeem themselves is a great idea, putting them at the center of criminal activity while they remain outside the law is not. IMHO.

32 Responses to “Violence Interrupters”? Let’s Think About This . . .

  1. It is modeled after the nationally acclaimed CeaseFire model, which some credit with drastically reducing gun violence in Chicago.

    Hahahahaha

  2. My only problem with this and any other similar program, is the part where tax dollars fund it. Why the hell should my money be used to pay some dipshit to go settle a dispute between T-Lo and G Money because T-Lo thought G Money looked at his ho?

    If gangsters are so interested in having “violence interrupters” and “conflict mediators” on hand to settle their turf wars, let them sign up and pay a membership fee to get the benefits of being an SNS member.

  3. This blog and the comments are among the dumbest things I gave read in a while. If the blogger had bothered to do any research, they would see that the statistical evidence backs all the statements they quote. More worrying than the shit journalism is the general implication, enhanced in the comments, that people who have ever committed a crime are beyond redemption and incapable of not only change, but also atoning for their misdeeds by risking their lives in the attempt to repair the communities they were in the past responsible for breaking apart. That’s justice and positive social change in action, far more than just condemning and people and communities to continually repeat cycles of violence.

    • Thor: we try to refrain from personal attacks and flaming on this blog. You’ve been warned. We won’t warn you again.

      Regarding your statements, you seem to think that here at the Truth About Guns, we don’t take our name seriously. You infer that we just post things, willy-nilly, and make comments to suit our own biases, instead of researching things and backing up our hypotheses with facts.

      Sadly for you, that’s kind of a “Liberal/Progressive/Anti-Gunner” thing. It’s not ours.

      So when you read something here, you can rest assured, that we do our homework, and have our facts straight. Now keep in mind (an open mind…not something you seem to be overly-familiar with, but still), facts CAN be manipulated. Something Mark Twain said (and attributed to Benjamin Disraeli [Google him]) said, “there are lies, damned lies, and statistics.” This implies that a clever person can twist statistics to support their own contentions, when in fact, they do just the opposite. Case-in-point, where this group trumpeted their ‘success’ in getting crime stats to go down in their neighborhood. A look at a larger data sampling reveals that the decrease was not statistically significant.

      Turning to your comments on recidivism, that, too is a well-documented area, where statistically, criminals do tend to commit more crimes after serving time. That is NOT to say that any individual WILL commit another crime after being released from prison. It’s just that the odds favor him doing so. But perhaps you might appreciate more if we spoke in aphorisms (that’s “wise sayings” to you). “Live with the lame and you limp,” or “Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas” springs to mind. If you smoke and want to quit, the last place you wanna hang out is a smokey bar. If you are recovering from a drug addiction, you generally wanna stay away from users and pushers. And it stands to reason, if you are a criminal on parole, the last place you wanna put yourself is in a situation where you’ll be around other criminals. That’s just common sense.

      Now, sure, if you wanna live in the dream world of TV Movie of the Week, we can all join hands, sing “Kumbaya” and assume that everyone in this program has motives that are as pure as the driven snow. But human nature has a tendency to take “positive social change in action,” pull it’s pants down, and give it a good thwacking. I’m all for redemption. But the best place to find that is in a house of worship. Not going out and “helping” the police in some fuzzy-thinking, Federally-funded attempt at this President’s version of “midnight basketball.”

      • Hey thor, wanna buy a t-shirt? I’ll hand deliver it to your lair. Do you still go to Valhalla after your prison sentence? Hugs and kisses…

  4. I can’t comment specifically on the Operation Ceasefire in Chicago, but with Operation Ceasefire in Los Angelas, this retailing part (with internal community social services) was not considered to be effective. Quoting the NIJ report on Los Angelas on Page 15:

    “In Boyle Heights, where retailing was carried out and some increased social services were offered, all three types of crime—violent, gang, and gun—declined.7 However, the differences between Boyle Heights and the rest of Hollenbeck, where there was no intervention, were not statistically significant.”

    Ex-cons can change, and yes, they can potentially help out their communities. But simply because they can, does not mean they will not do so. I think Mr. Farago’s point is that there do not appear to be any safeguards or oversight measures built into SNS to keep everyone honest. This is particularly important given the sum of tax-payer money being put into it.

    • LA is LA and Chicago is Chicago. If it happens in LA, it’s well-intentioned but likely to be a flop. If it happens in Chicago, it’s a scam.

  5. I wanna know who’s running the group who’s running the group. This sounds like it’s got ACORN and SEIU fingerprints all over it.

    Is Andrew Breitbart in the house? Breitbart? Anybody?

  6. While I don’t have an opinion one way or the other about this particular program (well, it sounds like bullshit, I’d prefer a nongovernment grassroots approach), I find some of the comments here a bit disturbing, and short-sighted:

    “Personally, I support thug on thug violence-just abhor if innocents are harmed.”
    -CUJO THE DOG OF WAR

    “Let these fools kill each other because they’ll eventually eliminate themselves.”
    -JOE MATAFOME

    “Why the hell should my money be used to pay some dipshit to go settle a dispute between T-Lo and G Money because T-Lo thought G Money looked at his ho?”
    -James

    I suspect more than a little racism here. At the turn of the last century, people were saying similar things about the criminally inclined Irish. I’m sure you’ll correct me if I’m wrong, but imagine – “Who cares if Jimmy O’Flaherty beats Seamus to death with a 2×4? They’re both hooligans.”

    Seriously, guys, people shooting and killing each other is a bad thing. And the people doing the shooting are mostly kids. The higher-ups in the gangster hierarchy send children out to do their dirty deeds. Pro gunners (including me, I have to keep saying it) are pissed that “gangbangers” are included in child gun death stats, and rightly so. But really, don’t you think less killing is better than more killing? Is not every life precious?

    I’m going to crack a beer now and let my liberal heart bleed a bit.

    • Seriously, guys, people shooting and killing each other is a bad thing.

      Really? What happens if a law abiding firearm carrier has to justifiably shoot a threat? Is that a bad thing or should the firearm carrier just roll over and accept whatever was going to happen to him?

      • Of course you have the right to defend yourself. If you justifiably shoot a person who’s threatening you and your family with violence, you did what you had to do. It’s still not a good thing. It’s a necessary evil.

        • NCG-If that is your real name-just joking! I apologize if I sound racist. Sincerely. You have to realize that I dealt, fairly and evenly, with criminals for 8 years. To be honest, though, the top 3 I ever physically injured the most in altercations were white. One was a skinhead who I had to knock out and he swallowed his two front teeth. (I don’t know if he got them back for Christmas!) I learned the criminal culture, and trust me, they see compassion as weakness. Doesn’t mean I like it, but that is the reality of sociopaths-who are that way from an early age.

        • Well, it is my real initials, at least.

          I get what you’re saying about sociopaths. And they do get that way from an early age, but I’m not so sure they’re born that way. Also, a lot of sociopaths are senators and congress members, on both sides. They’re just the smart ones.

          You’re right about the criminal culture. They do see compassion as a weakness. I see compassion as a strength.

  7. I couldn’t agree with you more on all the above, honestly. The only thing is that I don’t want to risk my or mine’s safety to ill effect. My first stint was working a prison. I carry scars for letting down my guard.

    • I may never fully agree with someone but I’ll treat them with all the true respect that they convey and deserve-as long as they reciprocate. Just bear with me-I have daily migraines and have my pissy moments. Veritas/Aequitas When it comes to criminals, just remember, I had a stroke by migraine/concussions in 2006 from multiple fights in L/E. I fought while some other cops waited in the shadows like sheep. I’m not bitter, but it ended my career. Being a wolf means never having to say “baaaa!”

  8. I’ll bet that with a minor refit the Superdome can be Thunderdome: two thugs in, one less thug out. Mrs. Obama could be invited to the grand opening as she would make a smashing Auntie Entity.

  9. re: sociopathy – when you are puzzling over the genetic/environmental questions in your head, don’t forget prenatal influence, which is showing up more and more in criminal origin studies. Early head trauma accounts for a lot as well.

    I come from a mental health background, so I wouldn’t be likely to run into the same info that you do, but I have never heard of a “violence interruption” model as being the ticket home. Obviously, you can get some success in a heated situation if you can get a person to, duh, think for thirty seconds, but that doesn’t seem to be what is described here. This seems to be hoping that planned vengeance can be averted if people can be induced to think a little. Well, it can’t hurt, but I doubt it’s going to do much, and the difficulties noted above – who is paying and getting paid, who gets the information, how success is measured – would seem to rapidly outweigh the (small) benefits pretty quickly.

    OTOH, an interruption model has been shown to work for suicide. Interruption of violence might be found to work in some context. Not sure I’d start with ex-cons, though…

  10. This thing is a bad idea. The bit about working against the interests in the police is a definite. Also it rewards going to prison for violence by making it a “diploma” for this new dream job for gang bangers. Every banger wants to be an old-g whose given it all up but wouldn’t trade the experience for nothin…

  11. NCG, I am firmly convinced that at least some sociopaths are born that way, and are un-reformable by anything short of personality-altering drugs. A guy I knew in elementary school was already a full-blown hood in the third grade. He stole from his classmates, habitually made up lies and excuses, cut class, cheated on tests, spread gossip, and bullied and started fights. Punishment simply didn’t matter to him; he just laughed it off and then went back to whatever he was going to do anyway.

    He was the second of four children from a solid middle-class family. His older brother, younger brother, and sister all turned out fine. I was told by his older brother once that he had been bullying playmates since he was a toddler, and that his parents had tried all kinds of punishments but nothing ever worked. As an adult, the guy has been arrested for just about every felony you can name short of rape or murder — drug dealing, arson, insurance fraud, forgery, counterfeiting, assault with a deadly weapon, car theft, you name it.

  12. Sooooo, we have:
    1) a bunch of
    2) ex-cons
    3) who use their “street cred”
    4) to cruise the ‘hoods and the barrios (as appropriate)
    5) for the express purpose of chillin’ and bonding with the bangers
    6) and who promise to never squeal to cops about what they see & learn
    7) for which they are paid
    8) by a (purposefully?) confusing amalgam of government-funded agencies by tax money.

    Great. They’ve created – and funded – a government-owned and government-protected uber-gang. Yes, soon there will be a tremendous drop in incidents of gangsters shooting gangsters…because they’ll all be working together in One.Big.Gang. Created and run by the ex-cons these “community organizing groups” paid to go talk to the gangsters will now run a huge, incredibly powerful gang which they’ve been paid to organize.

    It won’t be long, if these ex-cons have any sense at all, before this One Huge Gang starts hiring out as protection in the neighborhoods. Then maybe the cops need them for some not-quite-legal stuff…or maybe the cops pay The Gang to do what the cops used to do, like arresting gangsters.

    Then maybe comes a slick aspiring politician – maybe he’s a “community organizer”, hey! maybe the leader of the SNS! What a coincidence! – maybe he decides to go into politics. Hey, what a surprise! And he hires The One Huge Gang as his own little community organizers, to spread his campaign materials, provide “security” at his rallies, put up his posters ( read “take down opponents’ posters”), to be get-out-the-vote organizers, or even to be the kind of “poll security” that worked so well with the New Black Panther Party. Wow, who could foresee that happening, huh?

    So congratulations SNS – you’ve just made it possible for the birth of the first government-funded massive gang, which could be every bit as powerful in its area as the Mafia, plus receive absolute political protection by the politicians it might put in power. Nice thinking. It’ll be fun to see what happens when The Gang bosses and the politicians who protect each other decide they want to live in the same neighborhoods where all the Dem bosses who came up with this idiot idea live. Better yet, when the gangsters decide they want to live in the houses those Dem bosses live in…and they sure would appreciate their being donated. By this afternoon. Just leave the front door unlocked and the keys on the kitchen counter.
    ————————————————————————————–

    You don’t think something like this could flow from this idiot idea? I do, for any number of reasons, one being that when you deal with thugs, and particularly when you deal with them on their terms, they don’t work for your benefit. The only remotely good thing that could come from this insane idea is that when things do go to hell, the new bosses will know not to mess with conservative neighborhoods. Because the folks who live in those neighborhoods always believed in the Second Amendment …a lot.

  13. I believe the French have a similar program in effect around Paris. The police agree to stay out of the Muslim neighborhoods and the Muslim “violence interrupters” agree to only burn 5,ooo cars per year and keep rapes of infidels to a minimum. My problems with this horseshit program lie in it’s willfill ignorance of unlawful behavior, it’s loosey-goosey metrics and the fact that it’s paid for with tax dollars. Other than that it seems OK.

  14. We are the wealthiest nation in the world. We have the highest rate of incarceration in the world. Still, many of our inner cities are war zones, civil war between gangs with the cops (sometimes corrupt, as in New Orleans) as the occupying army. Not your problem? Maybe not. But I think we (yes “we,” which includes you) could do better.

  15. I suspect that this is really nothing more than taxes being used to pay extortion. They find the criminals most likely to shoot someone and pay them just as long as no one gets shot. Or they find close friends or relatives of those most likely to shoot someone and some of the money ends up in the hands of the most violent criminals as long as they don’t shoot anyone. It’s a modern danegeld.

    I wonder if the thugs can rob, rape, and beat people half to death with baseball bats and still get paid as long as they don’t use a gun.

  16. How about just getting plenty of competent police, flooding the violent neighborhood with them, and arresting and imprisoning the guys perpetrating the violence. I know that is a radical conservative idea, that does not consider the real needs of the community, but we might just try it.

  17. Bothe Chicago’s CeaseFire and Baltimore’s Safe Streets Violence Interrupter programs were comprehensively evaluated by two different bodies.

    They were found to be effective and a cheap alternative to dealing with the negative social costs associated with firearm related deaths.

    I see no problem.

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