A new chapter of Cure Violence – a program meant to reduce violent crime – has been proposed for Guilford County and it might become a reality.
However, Guilford County officials learned this week that, if the county does get a chapter, it will not be operated by Cone Health as some had proposed and hoped would happen.
Cone Health CEO Terry Akin, in a recent email to Guilford County Manager Marty Lawing, stated that Cone is very interested in supporting the implementation of the program and he added he appreciated the opportunity to meet recently with some Greensboro City Council members and Guilford County Commissioners to discuss the program.
Akin stated that he’d had the opportunity to learn more about the program as well as time to confer with his team at Cone.
“I want to clarify that it will not be possible for Cone Health to play the lead role in housing and operating such a program,” he wrote. “Based on our assessment of other programs (including the one closest to us in Durham), if Cure Violence is to be implemented in Greensboro, we believe it would be best and most appropriately operated as a program out of a county or city department, or a strong local non-profit or faith-based agency.”
Cure Violence uses an analysis of crime data to identify areas of a community with the most violent crime – especially gang-related violence – and sends workers, known as “interrupters,” into those areas to make a direct pitch to those committing violent acts. Those interrupters may be ex-felons who have served time for violent crimes themselves.
Guilford County Commissioner Hank Henning said this week that it’s clear why there are liability concerns given that model. Both Henning and Chairman of the Board of Commissioners Alan Branson said it’s certainly not a program Guilford County government should house or operate. When local officials first began discussing bringing the program to Guilford County – at a cost of roughly $600,000 for the first year – some said the program should be operated out of the Public Health Division of the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services. This would be the same model used in Durham where the program is funded and operated by the Durham County Health Department.
More and more, however, Cure Violence looks like a program that many in Guilford County say they support but that no one wants to run.
Akin wrote in his email to Lawing that Cone Health cares deeply about the “whole” health of all citizens and has a vested interest in any “issues that have an impact on their health and well-being.” Akin added that violence is an area of major concern to Cone in that regard and stated that Cone seeks to help in efforts to prevent and reduce it. He wrote that Cone Health is prepared to participate fully in the implementation of Cure Violence – just not run it.
Akin wrote in his email to Lawing, “We would welcome the opportunity to support the leadership of such a group. I hope this helps to clarify both our support of the concept, and our interest in participating as a full partner for this initiative. I look forward to further discussions.”