Federal Program Pays Grassroots Groups in Detroit to Curb Violence

By Associated Press

June 15, 2023

DETROIT—A half-dozen grassroots organizations in Detroit will receive federal funding to help reduce violent crime in some of the toughest parts of the city. Called “ShotStoppers,” the groups can use their own strategies to help prevent violence, Deputy Mayor Todd Bettison announced Wednesday.

ShotStoppers groups would be responsible for reducing homicides and shootings in areas that measure from 3.5 to 4.5 square miles. If the contracts are approved by the Detroit City Council, each group would get a $175,000 base budget per quarter. Funding for the community violence intervention program would come from the American Rescue Plan Act, which President Joe Biden signed in 2021.

Those groups that cut serious violence in their areas by 10 percentage points more than the city as a whole will receive an additional $87,500 in funding in any quarter, according to the city. Any group that outperforms the city in violence reduction by 20 percentage points will get an additional $175,000.

Bettison, who formerly served as an assistant police chief in Detroit, told reporters and community members that the program is expected to “ultimately change the culture of violence in the city” by preventing “the shot before it’s actually fired.”

Detroit police officers are “excellent” at getting the guns off the street, Mayor Mike Duggan added.

“We’ve got to get the anger out of the shooters’ hearts,” he said.

“They know the pain the folks in these neighborhoods are feeling,” Duggan said of the six groups. “They know the anger. They know what’s driving the shootings.”

Police reported 309 homicides and 959 nonfatal shootings last year. The city recorded 308 homicides in 2021 compared to 323 in 2020. There also were 1,064 nonfatal shootings in 2021, down from 1,170 the year before. Crime statistics in Detroit so far for 2023 were not immediately available Wednesday.

ShotStoppers are expected to implement their strategies starting July 1. Members say those strategies could include teaching young people to think critically, improving training opportunities for adults, drug prevention and blight removal.

“Under blight, a lot of criminal activity happens,” said Sandra Turner-Handy of the Denby Neighborhood Alliance. “Removing that blight removes that cover.”

Relocating families involved in ongoing squabbles or confrontations also could be considered.

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