Preventing Urban Firearm Homicides during COVID-19: Preliminary Results from Three Cities with the Advance Peace Program.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.1007/s11524-022-00660-4
The years 2020-2021 during the COVID-19 pandemic witnessed increases in firearm violence in many cities across the USA. We present data from Sacramento, Stockton, and Richmond, California that suggests firearm homicides during the pandemic did not increase in all communities or disproportionately burden the African American community. More specifically, we found that in these cities, there was a 5-52% decrease in gun homicides during the 2020/2021 period compared to the 2018/2019 period for neighborhoods with a gun violence prevention program operating there. We also found a 24-83% reduction in gun homicides in census tracts with > 20% Black populations in Sacramento and Stockton during the 2020/2021 period compared to the 2018/2019 period. In two cities, there was a 15-42% decrease in the number of African American men under 35 years old that were victims of a gun homicide in 2021 compared to 2018. We also found that the gun violence program operating in these cities called Advance Peace interrupted 202 street-level conflicts where guns were present across the three cities in 2020/2021 compared to 178 of the same conflicts in 2018/2019. These interruptions likely saved hundreds of lives and we estimate contributed to between US $65 and $494 million in savings. Advance Peace is a program that engages those at the center of gun violence, frequently young, Black men under 35 years old, and offers them the Peacemaker Fellowship, an intensive, 18-month program of 24/7 mentorship, social services, and life opportunities. The program is delivered by community resident "credible messengers," who conduct the mentorship and interrupt conflicts in the streets. While these findings are descriptive and preliminary, we know of no other program that was in operation before and during the pandemic in each of these cities that engaged the hard-to-reach but highly influential population at the center of gun violence.