A new effort that aims to reduce gun violence through a collaborative approach is underway in Jackson. The Jackson Police Department’s Group Violence Intervention Strategy (also called GVI) is getting off the ground with the hiring of Cheryl Ragland, the City’s first GVI Coordinator.
A presentation from Ragland and Police and Fire Services Director Elmer Hitt at the Tuesday, Oct. 25 City Council meeting got officials and the community updated on the progress so far. City Council approved funding in Aug. 2021 towards the initiative.
Since then, the police department has been working with the National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College to design a strategy aimed at reducing gun violence specific to Jackson. GVI is an evidence-based strategy that is meant to reduce gun violence by focusing on those that are at the highest risk for violent victimization and or offending by bringing to them a credible message that we want to see them safe, alive, and out of prison, and that violence is not going to be tolerated in our community.
With the GVI program getting started, the Jackson Police Department is working toward a community-focused approach to reduce this cycle of group violence. Under this new plan, law enforcement, social service, and the community will work together to directly approach those committing gun violence and look for direct solutions to stopping them from participating in this destructive behavior.
Ragland is already a familiar face in Jackson, known for her work with several community organizations, including the City’s Human Relations Commission. “The offer of help and assistance is real and gives people an opportunity to change the trajectory of their lives because ultimately, GVI is law enforcement and our communities standing and acting together to lower gun violence within the community itself,” Ragland said. “I’m passionate about the work and honored to be a part of this positive change for the City of Jackson.”
Elmer Hitt, the Director of Jackson Police and Fire Services, says a community-based approach has been shown to reduce the cycle of group violence in cities across the country. “I am excited about the opportunity this strategy brings to make a difference for some of the most vulnerable citizens in our community,” Hitt said. “It has the potential of saving lives and making our community a safer place for all.”
Cheryl Ragland, GVI Coordinator