Thursday, October 18, 2018

Stop and Frisk Only Hurts Black and Brown Communities

by Anna LauBach, Director of Special Initiatives

Patrick Sharkey, in his book An Uneasy Peace argues that Stop and Frisk policies did much to damage if not ruin any trusting relationship between police and the communities most impacted by violence. Stop and Frisk is the practice by which an individual can be stopped by the police if the officer has reason to suspect a crime has been or is about to be committed, and then frisked if there is suspicion he/she is carrying a weapon. Before it was ruled unconstitutional in 2013, Stop and Frisk was disproportionately carried out in black and brown neighborhoods where citizens, especially young men, suffered dire consequences.

Photo by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

Data from New York City show that at the height of Stop and Frisk in 2011, over 685,000 people were stopped by the police, 88 percent of whom were completely innocent, 53 percent were African American, 34 percent were Latinx, and 9 percent were white. As is becoming more widely acknowledged, violent crime in the country’s largest cities, and across the world for that matter, has been on the decline since the early 1990s. In New York City, there were almost 2,250 homicides in 1990 compared to an all-time low of 290 in 2017. Even in Chicago, where the declines have not been as dramatic, homicides declined from a high of over 926 in 1994 to 411 in 2014. The recent spike in 2016 of 762 homicides, while tragic and alarming, did not reach the 1994 peak.

When Stop and Frisk officially ended in 2013, violent crime continued to decline, but unfortunately fear of the police in targeted communities remained. While no one agrees on the exact reasons for declining violence, to suggest a return to Stop and Frisk is to move in the opposite direction of what the data, not to mention the communities most impacted tells us is the right course of action. It also ignores the complexity of violence as a problem in communities whose residents have mostly been left out of the solutions.

Recent projects like the Fund for Safe and Peaceful Communities, Communities Partnering for Peace, Grassroots Alliance for Police Accountability, and Envisioning Justice seek to bring community members back into a conversation about safety and justice at the same time they are attempting to redefine the relationship between police and the communities they serve. There are no simple answers to reducing violence, but as we search for them we as a country must confront our past and its costs to our citizens in pursuit of public safety.

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Addressing Intentional Violence and its Root Causes

by Kate Dohner, Senior Writer, University of Chicago Medicine and Biological Sciences Development
Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center

Violence in Chicago has become a national headline: “More Than 100 People Were Shot in Chicago Over the Fourth of July Weekend” (Time), “3-year-old boy among 7 wounded in Englewood shooting” (Chicago Sun Times).

The University of Chicago Medicine seeks to change this story. With one-third of the City’s homicides and violent crimes occurring within five miles of its campus, UChicago Medicine has the opportunity to not only deliver much-needed care to survivors of intentional violence but to become a proving ground for evidence-based interventions that reduce the number of patients who experience repeat violence.

Since opening in May 2018, UChicago Medicine’s Adult Level 1 Trauma Center has had more than 700 patient encounters, an average of 10 patients per day. Of those, 40 percent were directly related to community violence.

Recognizing that the epidemic of intentional violence calls for more than expert medical care, UChicago Medicine created the Violence Recovery Program, which provides intervention and ongoing, assertive case management to patients. Developed in concert with community leaders, more than 30 community organizations, and national experts, the program offers a holistic recovery for not just the patient, but for everyone affected by a trauma.

Philanthropic partners, like the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, are helping make this work possible. We envision a program that builds on current knowledge and resources; develops and tests new models of intervention and prevention; and provides infrastructure for program evaluation and research on many fronts. UChicago Medicine seeks to develop solutions that can benefit the City of Chicago and serve as a model for communities nationwide.

Image courtesy of University of Chicago Medicine - Adult Trauma Center