While every community deals with crime at some level, waves of violent crime can spark up in any place for a variety of different reasons. Some communities suffer from systemic and longstanding issues that serve as a source for epidemics of violent crime that can plague a region for decades. In response, the Violence Reduction Network (VRN) was created to help provide solutions for cities struggling with violent crime.
This month, the Violence Reduction Network held their second annual summit in Detroit, Michigan with representatives attending from 10 different cities with violent crime problems. Members range from small towns like West Memphis, Arkansas to Chicago, Illinois, the third largest city in the nation. Alongside the VRN member cities were representatives from the Department of Justice and Federal Law Enforcement, who both provide leadership and resources to the VRN in the hopes of addressing the greater issues that have led to outbreaks of crime in communities across the nation.
Holding the conference in Detroit served a dual purpose. It brought attention to Detroit’s own issues with crime while simultaneously celebrating the steps they have taken in the wake of recent public outcry over the deaths of Detroit citizens at the hands of police. Millions of dollars have been spent to better equip Detroit officers with weapons, armor, and supplies as well as body cameras intended to keep officers accountable.
“We don’t always know why violence descends on some communities but not others, but we do know that many of the neighborhoods hardest hit by violence are also grappling with other social ills, like poverty and unemployment and a widespread lack of opportunity,” said Sally Quilliam Yates from the Department of Justice. Rather than simply discussing better equipment for officers or increased street patrols, the summit focused on the reasons people turn to criminal behavior and opened up discussion on ways cities can attempt to stop crime before it’s committed.