Violence prevention program rolled out as Wilmington records another homicide

 Investigation in 500 block of Jefferson St., Wilmington (John Jankowski/for newsworks)

Investigation in 500 block of Jefferson St., Wilmington (John Jankowski/for newsworks)

As the city moves forward with a unique approach to fight crime, Wilmington police are investigating the murder of a man found dead inside of a car early Thursday morning.

 

According to police, shortly after 5 a.m officers were called to the 500 block of N. Jefferson Street after someone reported shots fired. On scene, police found a 38-year-old male with a gunshot wound to the head in the driver’s seat of a vehicle. Officers immediately performed CPR and transported the victim to Christiana Hospital where he was pronounced dead. The victim’s identity is being withheld until family members are notified.

The recent shooting crime serves as an example why the city is trying out “Cure Violence”, a national crime prevention program for Wilmington. In April, Frank Perez, the national director of the “Cure Violence” program surveyed several areas of the city where the program could be successful.

“In this country for the last several hundred years we looked at violence as being in the realm of the criminal justice system,” Perez said.

Perez expressed during an April tour of the city that the challenge is not to separate the criminal justice but to add on to it.

He said when it comes to violence; the goal is to “look at it from the health perspective.”

The health perspective approach will bring mediators to hospitals in an effort to prevent shootings before they occur by talking to hospitalized shooting victims. For example, mediators who will also be called “interrupters” will step in and talk to those who draw up plans to retaliate while under medical care. In fact, they’ll be very familiar with the streets.

“A lot of them have possibly been to prison, possibly shot somebody, possibly been involved in a gang, possibly sold drugs but now they are rejuvenating their lives,” said Shawn Allen, deputy director of Wilmington’s Department of Parks and Recreation.

Allen will run the program that will be locally known as Cease Violence Wilmington.

“We’re going to use the same individuals that used to tear down the community to rebuild the community once again,” Allen said.

There will be four interrupters along with six outreach workers. The outreach workers will have a different job by trying to provide resources for shooting victims.

“When the victim agrees and says I’m tired of this lifestyle, we can connect you to those resources and give you a better way of life,” Allen said.

Allen added that there’s also a task force involved with the Cease Violence program and will evaluate the program. The goal is to keep an eye on the caseloads that outreach workers handle and see if the program is successful. The group includes officials from Christiana Care, University of Delaware, the Hope Commission and City of Wilmington.

This week Allen told WHYY that “Cease Violence Wilmington” will be concentrated on the Northside and Westside of the city. Mediators and outreach workers are expected to be hired and trained by June and will hit the streets by July 1st.

In the meantime, Wilmington Police are asking anyone with information regarding Thursday’s shooting to call 302-576-3990.

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