"The Interrupters" Makes Television Debut on FRONTLINE

"Best Documentary of 2011" shows how "violence interrupters" stop the transmission of violence

    • February 7, 2012

The television premiere of the award winning documentary "The Interrupters" occurred on FRONTLINE on Tuesday, February 14, 2012. View the entire film on FRONTLINE's website.

"The Interrupters" follows three CeaseFire Chicago "violence interrupters" as they stop the transmission of violence from person to person in much the same way that disease control professionals contain and prevent the spread of infectious illnesses. In a lively recent interview on the Colbert Report, Ameena Matthews, a Violence Interrupter featured in the film, describes how violence spreads like a disease, and how it can be stopped.

CeaseFire was developed in 1995 by epidemiologist Dr. Gary Slutkin to reduce gun violence among youth. The program applies public health practices to violence prevention, focusing on the highest-risk individuals to interrupt violent actions and change the thinking about violence as acceptable behavior. The Department of Justice, states, and localities funded replication sites in Columbus, Ohio, New Orleans, Brooklyn, and throughout New York state.

A 2008 U.S. Department of Justice-funded evaluation of CeaseFire in Chicago found significant reductions in gun violence and retaliatory homicides associated with four of seven intervention neighborhoods studied. The program’s success led the Baltimore City Health Department to replicate Chicago’s CeaseFire program in four of Baltimore’s most violent neighborhoods under the name Safe Streets with a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

In January 2012, Safe Streets also released a promising program evaluation conducted by Daniel Webster, ScD, MPH, and Jennifer Whitehill, PhD, of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The evaluation was funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and measured Safe Streets' effect on gun violence, attitudes about the acceptability of gun use and impact on the lives of participants after the implementation of the program.

Researchers found the Safe Streets program was responsible for declines in shootings and killings. Homicides were reduced by more than half in Baltimore’s Cherry Hill neighborhood. And in communities plagued by violence where Safe Streets wasn’t implemented, community members were seven times more likely to support using guns to resolve disputes compared to a Safe Streets neighborhood.

CeaseFire receives support from RWJF’s Vulnerable Populations Portfolio, which creates new opportunities for better health by investing in health where it starts – in our communities, homes, schools and jobs.

Most Requested