MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – In the midst of an uptick in violence city-wide, Minneapolis is officially rolling out its Violence Interrupters initiative.

Men and women who are part of the community walk the streets of troubled neighborhoods to prevent violence before it happens. Many who support the program also want to see something done immediately about the surge in violence.

For the past several weeks, community members wearing orange shirts have been walking the streets of north and south side neighborhoods, using their connections with young people to help stop them from making bad choices that can lead to violence. These violence interrupters are managed by the Office of Violence Prevention.

“For 25 years in Minneapolis, gun violence has been concentrated in only 18 city blocks. That is a solvable problem and if we put the right resources to that problem, we can eliminate the gun violence that is killing our children,” said Lisa Bender, Minneapolis City Council president.

She believes the interrupters will play a big role in stopping the violence. She says this evidence-backed initiative is just one part of a multi-layered approach in stopping crime before it happens.

“When it comes to sustainably disrupting the cycle of violence, we need as many strategies deployed at one time,” said Minneapolis City Councilmember Phillipe Cunningham.

Most in communities impacted by this violence support the interrupters, but there are some who live where the gunshots ring out daily who want more.

“Folks are still going to say ‘that’s great,’ but in the meantime I want to see the men and women in blue. They’re not here. Where are they? I want to see them too, not just orange, but I want to see blue,” said Bill Rodriguez. He sees the violence every day.

Rodriguez sees the violence every day. He would like a 60-day emergency response that sends law enforcement to be a deterrent so these interrupters can do their jobs in discouraging young people from committing crime.

He said he wants a “surge of uniformed law enforcement officers on the street to serve as a deterrent and to do two things to restore some calm and confidence and buy time until the city has more specific action plans in place.”

The Violence Interrupters work for the community and are not affiliated with Minneapolis Police. Workers say they serve as a buffer between the police and community.

Reg Chapman

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