On Wednesday, Jan. 2, some Guilford County commissioners, Greensboro City Councilmembers and county and city staff met in the Old Guilford County Court House in downtown Greensboro to discuss a proposed Cure Violence initiative and see whether the program, if approved, should be placed administratively under the non-profit One Step Further Inc.

Cure Violence is a program that originated in Chicago with the goal of bringing down murder rates in cities.  The program employs, in some cases, ex-felons to go into the inner cities and attempt to diffuse violence.  Those “interrupters” work outside of Police Department or Sheriff’s Department oversight and have the inherently dangerous job of confronting violent people on a regular basis.

One Step Further is a Greensboro-based nonprofit formed in 1982 that provides counseling and mediation services for juveniles and adults.  The organization works with the Guilford County court system and others to help people get on and stay on the right path in life.

Greensboro City Councilmember Yvonne Johnson, who is the executive director of One Step Further, was at the Jan. 2 meeting that included Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan, City Councilmember Michelle Kennedy, Chairman of the Guilford County Board of Commissioners Alan Branson, Commissioners Carolyn Coleman and Skip Alston and county and city staff, including attorneys.

Initially, there was talk that the program would be housed under the Guilford County Department of Health and Human Services, but the county commissioners didn’t like that idea due to liability concerns based on the nature of the work.  Then there was talk that Cone Health might house the program – since some view the violence problem as a health problem – and Cone certainly does deal often with the effects of the violence.  Cone stated it supports the idea of a Cure Violence program in Guilford County but will not house it.

So now One Step Further is under consideration.

Branson said that, based on the Jan. 2 discussion, Johnson seemed interested but he said One Step Further shares some concerns the county and Cone have expressed.

“The devil is in the details,” Branson said.

After the meeting, Branson said he still isn’t sold on the idea that this is something Guilford County should spend $300,000 on.  Under a current proposal to get the program up and running, the City of Greensboro would pay $300,000 and Guilford County would pay $300,000.

Branson said everyone is for trying to find a solution to the violence but he’s not yet convinced that the program will be effective in doing that.  He also said the five “hotspots” that would be addressed by the program are in Greensboro. He said it would not have much bearing on High Point or rural Guilford County though he added that, at the meeting, it was suggested that the program could be broader than the hotspots under discussion.

“I just see it as targeting only small areas, mostly in the cities,” Branson said.

He said he would be more likely to support it if it were, for instance, a program that went to all the schools and got kids on the right path when they were young.