Violence interrupters

“It’s about showing up—and continuing to show up—to demonstrate trustworthiness. It’s bringing diapers when you say you’re going to bring diapers, it’s waiting in the lobby while someone’s at an appointment.”

Daniela Gilbert
Director, Redefining Public Safety
Vera Institute of Justice

Violence interrupters and neighborhood change agents are outreach workers and nontraditional case managers from the neighborhoods and communities where violence is occurring. Also called peacekeepers, life coaches, or street outreach, they are relatable to the people they work with because of their lived experience. They may have lost loved ones to violence, they may have been shot themselves, they may have been incarcerated, or they may have relatives who have been incarcerated. These skilled professionals are also part of group violence interventions, though these collaborative strategies require careful coordination to preserve outreach workers’ integrity and appropriate separation from law enforcement. Community leaders in these formal roles build relationships with people involved in violence and help them address conflict in nonviolent ways, like mediation. Most importantly, these outreach workers build trust.