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Giffords Law Center Releases New Report Highlighting Community Violence Intervention Workers on the Front Lines of Gun Violence Prevention

“On the Front Lines: Elevating the Voices of Violence Intervention Workers” gathered data from CVI workers in cities highly impacted by gun violence

Washington, DC — With shootings continuing to surge in cities throughout the country, Giffords Law Center released a new report highlighting the importance of community violence intervention (CVI) workers, exploring the support and resources these individuals have access to, and making recommendations to bolster CVI work around the country. “On the Front Lines” details how these workers, who are putting their lives on the line every day, are often underpaid and undersupported.

Paul Carrillo, Community Violence Initiative Director:

“As a former community violence intervention worker, I have a deep appreciation for how critically important this work is—and how dangerous it is. Intervention workers risk their lives to save other people. They understand that people from disenfranchised communities of color are carrying multiple layers of trauma and for various reasons, can reach a point where violence seems like the only way to resolve conflict.

“Over the past year and a half, gun violence has skyrocketed across the US, with more gun homicides in 2020 than in any other single year since 1994. The Biden administration has proposed $5 billion in federal funding for community violence intervention programs in impacted neighborhoods. Congress must pass this funding immediately—given the tragic increases in gun violence that cities across the country have seen over the past year and a half, there’s no time to waste.”

In June and July 2021, Giffords Law Center surveyed more than 200 CVI workers in four cities, with the help of four partner organizations: the Urban Peace Institute in Los Angeles, the Oakland Department of Violence Prevention, Chicago CRED, and the Mayor’s Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement in Baltimore. The results below reflect the experiences of 180 full-time CVI workers in these cities. 

Later today, Giffords will host a roundtable to bring together and give voice to the peacemakers who spend their days doing dangerous work on the streets interrupting cycles of violence. Representatives from the Urban Peace Institute, the Los Angeles Office of Violence Prevention, and Homeboy Industries will be in attendance, and the roundtable will be moderated by Giffords Community Violence Initiative Director Paul Carrillo. 

Survey Results

Demographic Characteristics

  • The majority of CVI workers in our sample—78%—were male. The average worker was 44 years old, with workers ranging in age from 22 to 72.
  • Workers overwhelmingly identified as people of color: 72% of workers identified as Black and 26% of workers identified as Latino.
  • 73% of workers had been working for their current employer for at least one year, while 18% had been working for their current employer for at least five years.

Worker Compensation, Benefits, and Tangible Supports

  • 75% of full-time CVI workers reported making between $30,000 and $50,000 per year.
  • 86% of workers have occasional or frequent worries about losing their jobs due to a lack of funding.
  • 87% of full-time workers reported that they work additional hours beyond their regular work schedule at least once a month.

Support for CVI Work

  • 52% of CVI workers said they neither agree nor disagree that law enforcement supports their work. Only 26% of workers fully agreed that they felt supported by law enforcement.
  • 43% of respondents indicated that they did not feel they were respected by other professionals they worked within their role, such as hospital workers and emergency services workers.
  • 56% of respondents disagreed with the statement that their local government adequately supports and funds their work, while 61% of workers indicated that they disagreed that their state and federal governments adequately support or fund their work.

Access to Resources

  • 68% of workers reported receiving adequate training for their role.
  • 93% of respondents indicated that there were not enough CVI workers doing violence intervention and prevention work.
  • 43% of respondents reported they had seen many coworkers leave the field, while just 26% of respondents fully disagreed that many coworkers had left the field.

Street Outreach Worker Trauma

  •  53% of respondents agreed that the trauma of people they helped at work had some effect on them, with 56% of respondents reporting that within the last 30 days, they had been less productive at work due to sleep loss.
  • 93% of workers indicated that they had directly witnessed gun violence and 56% reported that they had been a victim of gun violence themselves before working as a paid CVI worker.
  • 94% of workers reported experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE), while 69% reported experiencing four or more ACEs.

The survey results indicate just how far the country has to go in ensuring that violence intervention workers and organizations receive the resources and support they need to do their critical work safely and effectively.


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