CeaseFire employs public health methodology to fight urban violence

August 24, 2011

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(Courtesy of Kartemquin Films)
Gary Slutkin, founder and executive director of CeaseFire, and Tio Hardiman, creator of the Interrupters program.

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The new documentary film The Interrupters chronicles the groundbreaking and now well-known program called CeaseFire. Founded 15 years ago in Chicago, CeaseFire takes a public health approach to violence, employing former gang members to stop violence before it begins in some of the city’s most dangerous neighborhoods. It’s had remarkable success and has been implemented in cities around the world.

CeaseFire’s founder, Dr. Gary Slutkin, is a local physician and epidemiologist. Dr. Slutkin spent years in Africa with the World Health Organization fighting cholera, tuberculosis and AIDS. It’s through his work fighting communicable diseases in Africa that he came to view violence as a public health problem. We talk with Dr. Slutkin about how his work fighting the spread of disease helped shape the model for CeaseFire.