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'Violence Interrupters' work to prevent gun violence in Milwaukee

Posted at 10:17 PM, May 30, 2019

A new initiative by Milwaukee's Office of Violence Prevention is putting "Violence Interrupters" right into the community, in hopes of stopping crime before it happens.

It's all part of the 414 LIFE Blueprint for Peace. Eleven staff members meet three times a week to plan where they will stage themselves in the community.

The hope is to have ears on the street and anticipate violence before it happens.

"If we are going to affect any kind of change, if we’re going to change that culture, we have to empower the people in those neighborhoods in those communities to step up and they take control of it" said Supervisor Christopher Conley.

Conley was a teacher for 16 years, but feels more effective in his community now.

"When you're working proactively, that crime doesn’t get a chance to fester, doesn't get a chance to grow," he says.

Last weekend, The Milwaukee Police Department says there were no gun homicides over the Memorial Day weekend. Something that hasn't happened since 2012.

According to organizers, workers from the "Violence Interrupter" team were out and about in the city and were part of a the bigger community keeping the peace. Generally it is hard to quantify results of their work, because crime data doesn't show crimes that did not happen.

But by the organizations count, they were able to avoid some bloodshed.

"We were able to get in front of 26 potentially violent situations, things that would have blown up, there would have been gun violence there would have been some victims," said Conley.

The "Violence Interrupters" are part of the Office of Violence Prevention, and funded by the Milwaukee Health Department and private donors.