City gets grant to fight homicide with health care

The current Ain4Peace target area in yellow, and the expanded area in gray. (The west side of this map is Wabash and the south side is Blue Parkway).

Well, OK, the city will take that $3 million federal grant to more than triple an effort to cut its high homicide rate. The city council Neighborhoods, Housing and Healthy Communities committee voted Wednesday to accept the grant. The money for the Aim4Peace program goes to the full council for final approval today. It will allow Aim4Peace to hire 12 more people and expand the area it covers from about five square miles to more than 18 miles in the east patrol area. The area where the city health care group operates now has only six homicides so far this year compared to an average of 15 for the last three years. That was a big reason it got the competitive grant, officials said. People want to see if it can cut homicides more in the 45-square-mile east patrol area. That area generally has about 40 percent of the city’s homicides, which average 106 a year. It has 41 of the 103 homicides so far this year, compared to 17 homicides in Midtown’s central patrol area. Aim4Peace – treating violence like a disease – provides mediation to quell disputes. After people are shot, for instance, workers go to hospitals and talk to victims, friends or familes. They teach courses to help get jobs, to promote life skills and to resolve conflicts. They speak in schools and other places. Up to half of homicides are retaliation killings, officials say, and the model can help. Rex Archer, city health director, said he hopes that in three years the number of homicides will drop significantly in the expanded coverage area. Councilman John Sharp said the group has been hampered by a lack of resources and its limited range. “It’s awfully tough to have the change we want when it is concentrated in such a small area,” he said. But Archer said spreading too far without enough resources will not work, either. He said it would be like treating an outbreak of pneumonia with too little medicine – try to treat too many people and no one gets well.

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