Criminal justice faculty awarded grant to create coordinated services for victims of gun violence
Researchers receive $225,000 from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation for new initiative
A team of faculty from Rochester Institute of Technology’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives is spearheading a new initiative to address community trauma and health inequity caused by gun violence. Through a $225,000 grant from the Greater Rochester Health Foundation, the team will support the launch of a new one-stop shop in Rochester to provide comprehensive services for victims of gun violence.
Jordan Health will serve as the central hub and is working with the United Way Systems Integration Project to coordinate services through other community partners, including Pathways to Peace, Rochester SNUG, Rise Up Rochester, Advance Peace, Ubuntu Village Works, and the City of Rochester Mayor’s Office. The initiative, led by principal investigator Associate Professor Irshad Altheimer and Assistant Research Professor Janelle Duda-Banwar, will provide victims the support they need to help stabilize their lives and avoid further violence.
“We’re hoping this can be a national model for helping victims deal with the trauma after they get medical care,” said Altheimer. “A lot of times they get patched up really well but they are being released without a safety plan or anyone dealing with their trauma. For some people law enforcement is not an option for a lot of different reasons, which means we have to think about alternative organizations who can engage them. We hope that by dealing with the trauma, we can lower the victimization and retaliation that often happens after a shooting.”
The initiative builds on a decade of research by RIT’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives and the Community Engagement to Reduce Victimization (CERV) project, where researchers conducted customer journey mapping interviews with victims of violence in the Rochester community. Their research found that shooting victims are often discharged from the hospital in less than four hours and systemically shut out of follow-up services.
“We found that these individuals felt like they were not valued,” said Duda-Banwar. “They were not treated with dignity or respect, and the hospital wanted to get them out of there as quickly as possible. Not one of the people we interviewed received follow-up medical care services and many weren’t connected to any services at all. Based on our customer journey maps and our own observations, the systems needed to work together better.”
The researchers noted that the arrest rate for nonfatal shootings in Rochester over the past 20 years is only about 20 percent. They said that while the rate needs to increase and there has to be a law enforcement component to address the problem, coordinated services offered through a trusted community partner like Jordan Health can help tackle the issue from a different perspective.
“Jordan Health is in a unique position to participate with RIT in this collaboration,” said Kara Fredette-Benitez, Jordan Health’s director of care coordination. “Jordan Health has seven locations that span across the City of Rochester. Many of our patients and staff live in areas of Rochester that are affected by violence. This partnership enables Jordan Health the opportunity to be an active part of the solution while still maintaining our role, providing quality health care and care coordination services to the Rochester community.”
Organizers expect to begin piloting the program in May or June and hope to have it fully operational by the end of summer. For more information, go to the Center for Public Safety Initiatives website.