What is Community Violence Intervention? Innovative Approaches to Reduce Violence in Cities


  • Emanuel Boo Milton
June 27, 2024 - (4 min read)

This is one in a series of blogs focused on Gun Violence Awareness in June. To connect with the National League of Cities’ Justice Initiatives Team and other cities doing the work to address violence in their communities, e-mail justiceinitiatives@nlc.org.

Violence is a significant issue for many cities. While it remains a problem across the country, city leaders are looking to solve it, finding hope in new strategies and approaches. Community violence intervention (CVI) is an approach that uses evidence-informed strategies to reduce violence through tailored community-centered initiatives, as defined by the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs. CVI strategies are usually implemented in communities that experience a higher frequency of violence and are designed to support those who are most likely to be impacted by violence.

CVI is gaining traction with millions of dollars invested into cities from the federal government, philanthropy, and city budgets to support this promising approach. Here, city government leaders connected to the National League of Cities share their thoughts on CVI and how their cities have embraced and implemented this approach to violence reduction.

Jodie Esquibel, Deputy Director of Community Safety, City of Albuquerque, NM

What is a benefit of cities engaging in CVI work?

The benefit of CVI work is putting the community at the center by establishing relationships and supporting those at the highest risk of being victims or becoming part of the gun violence cycles in the city.

What is one strategy that your city is implementing that you are proud of?

Strategy components encompass a public health approach to intervene in the cycles of violence in ABQ by addressing the social determinants of health and disparities that underlie and drive the increase of gun crime. Custom notifications are delivered by peer support workers with lived experience sharing a credible message of non-violence, pathways to various social services, peer support, and an “honorable exit” from committing future acts of violence.   

You can find more information about the excellent work of the City of Albuquerque at www.cabq.gov/acs.

Wilford Pinkney Jr. – Director, Office of Violence Prevention, City of St. Louis, MO

What is a benefit of cities engaging in CVI work?

There are many benefits for cities engaging in CVI work. Since 2020, numerous cities, including St. Louis, have established offices dedicated to this initiative. CVI strategies and engagement are crucial for connecting community resources to those who need them most. They address the roots of violence in a holistic way that government and law enforcement cannot address alone.

What is one strategy that your city is implementing that you are proud of?

Violence holds victims, families, friends, and neighbors hostage. It tears communities apart and prevents them from coming together. I am most proud of our efforts to engage and rebuild these connections by earning the community’s trust. A key aspect of this work is meeting people where they are. We’ve achieved this through monthly events called Kickbacks, where we create safe spaces in communities affected by violence to raise awareness about violence prevention and intervention resources.

Additionally, our Crisis Response Unit (CRU) and Community Crisis Response Team (C3RT) play a crucial role in crisis intervention. These teams meet individuals in their moments of crisis, providing immediate care to ensure they are safe. Once stable, we continue supporting them by connecting them to vital resources for their recovery and well-being.

We also engage communities through our Show Me Peace program. Show Me Peace involves credible messengers cultivating meaningful personal relationships to de-escalate or mediate conflicts. They encourage everyone to commit to reducing violence. This program has seen communities embrace collaboration, hope, and unity, repairing the divisions that have torn them apart. By addressing violence with community-focused strategies, we are changing the narrative of St. Louis and reclaiming our communities in partnership with those most affected.

You can find more information about the excellent work of the City of St. Louis at www.stlouis-mo.gov/ovp.

Additional Resources

If your city is looking to explore Community Violence Intervention or would like to enhance the work you are currently doing, check out the resources below:

About the Author

Emanuel Boo Milton

About the Author

Emanuel Boo Milton is a Fellow on the Justice Initiatives Team at the National League of Cities.