LOUISVILLE, Ky. — As record numbers of homicides and non-fatal shootings continue to spike in Louisville, there's hope for curbing gun violence through an approach known as Group Violence Intervention (GVI). It's being used in Louisville after successes in other large cities across the country.
As of Tuesday, the Louisville Metro Police Department (LMPD) reported 130 fatal shootings in 2020 so far. The number of non-fatal shootings is even greater at 529.
Numbers from Norton Children's Hospital show at least double the number of kids treated for shooting injuries this year compared to last year.
That's heartbreaking to community anti-violence activist Christopher 2x, founder of Christopher 2X Game Changers.
“You can just hear gunfire, and you go through a nightly drill sometimes by getting under the bed. By staying away from windows. It’s serious stuff," he said.
He helps victims and survivors, sending an anti-violence message to children in particular. He's also helped coordinate the GVI efforts in Louisville.
“The children, the parents, the elderly, they suffer much from fear. They suffer much from the emotional toll connected to it and the anxiety," 2X explained.
That's where David Kennedy comes in. Kennedy is the executive director of the National Network for Safe Communities at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York. He's helped to pioneer the GVI approach to curbing violent crime, which proved successful first in Boston in the 1990s.
“Bottom line for GVI is we want those people who are highest risk to be safe, to be alive, and to be free," Kennedy said.
GVI involves victims of violence delivering moral messages against violence to their most at-risk neighbors in an emotional appeal to end the violence.
“If a mother who has lost her son says to them, ‘my life and my family will never be the same,’ and ‘if you get killed then your mother will be broken forever,’ they really listen to that," Kennedy explained.
The Gwynns lost their son, Christian, in a drive-by shooting last December. Krista Gwynn previously told Spectrum News 1 she's happy to participate in whatever way possible, urging an anti-violence message herself. It's worth a try, she says.
Kennedy adds that during this time of calls for police reform, GVI can be a way to achieve that as well.
“We also think that especially historically damaged and neglected communities need a different kind of public safety. This is a way of making our way to that," he added.
The approach has been underway for a few months in Louisville now, Kennedy reports, with players like U.S. Attorney Russell Colemen involved in facilitating the strategy to curb the shootings. Kennedy says that victims and survivors have not yet met with those at-risk to share anti-violence messages, but that's still part of the plan to do so soon.