After a violent 2021 for D.C., and police data showing 2022 trending to be more violent, with total violent crime 17% higher than this time a year ago, a new program is training violence interrupters to stop gun violence before it starts in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods.
The D.C. Peace Academy will train 25 violence interrupters over the next 13 weeks.
We are thrilled to announce the launch of the DC PEACE ACADEMY, a 13-week/125-hour training program for DC’s community violence intervention workers!!! pic.twitter.com/ArmJKBir8Y
— PeaceforDC (@PeaceforDC) May 31, 2022
“We want them to learn the skills to be able to do deeper work with more individuals in the communities that they serve,” said Lashonia Thompson-El, executive director of Peace for D.C. which runs the academy.
“It’s basically a training program for violence interrupters and outreach workers working across the city to intervene in gun violence and various high-risk neighborhoods.”
Thompson-El told WTOP’s news partners NBC Washington that they will learn new strategies to detect conflict and treat trauma. They will also receive training in cognitive therapy.
And they will have the opportunity to train in “healthy masculinity, public speaking (and) organizing.”
Those violence interrupters have deep roots all across the city.
“I’m a firm believer that we should put the public health approach to gun violence intervention in every neighborhood that needs it,” Thompson-El said.
“We should not treat it like an experiment, and pick and choose which high-risk neighborhoods to put the programs in, because that just causes violence to be suppressed or dispersed.”
The academy runs two days per week. There are plans for another session this fall.