By Victoria Lucas

A justice ministry organization hopes the implementation of a program will be one solution aimed at reducing the number of violent incidents in Richmond.

The organization, Richmonders Involved to Strengthen Our Communities, or RISC, will host a round-table Monday evening with a push to implement the Group Violence Intervention program, or GVI in the city.

RISC is a justice ministry organization comprised of multiple organizations within Richmond along with Chesterfield and Henrico counties.

GVI was developed by the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College in conjunction with the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services under the U.S. Department of Justice.

It is originally known as Boston “Operation Ceasefire,” a citywide strategy, created in May of 1996 aimed at curbing juvenile and gang gun violence.

The evidence-based strategies were then used to develop GVI, and the program has been used in cities across the U.S., such as Boston, Cincinnati, Detroit, New York, Philadelphia and more.

The program is designed to reduce street-group violence and homicides by delivering a moral message against violence, prior notice about the consequences of further violence and help to those who want it.

This is given to those who are involved in the violence and those behind the message is a partnership of law enforcement, community members and social service providers.

RISC has said they have called on Mayor Levar Stoney to implement the program since June of 2020 after meeting with him several times that summer. The organization adds Mayor Stoney has refused to meet with them since.

In February of 2022, Mayor Stoney released an open letter to the organization, saying in part:

“The path we are taking in Richmond has been informed by a vast array of community members including yourselves, and experts. It is evidence-based. Please afford me, the Chief of Police, my administration and the many members of the community who are working with us the respect and grace to do what we think is best for the people of Richmond…”

The round-table will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Third Street Bethel AME Church, located at 614 North Third Street.

Mayoral and City Council candidates, city councilmembers, officials from the Richmond City Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney and more have committed to attend.

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