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Proposed city budget leaving room from group violence intervention

SOUTH BEND, Ind. --- South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg said the city’s co-op Group Violence Intervention program with the Goodwill Inc. deserves to be funded and expanded.

The Mayor’s Office requested $130,000 for GVI in it’s 2019 budget proposal. Buttigieg said he wants to invest in what’s working.

“Having seen the numbers really come down over the course of the summer is an indication that this approach is promising and deserves to be funded and expanded,” he said.

The program’s purpose is to reduce violence by providing member of street groups avenues to succeed. Isaac Hunt, GVI supervisor, said last year the program serviced 256 people.

“It’s working,” Hunt said. “A lot of things people don’t see is the actual numbers that’s coming out of it or the gun violence that’s being prevented.”

Hunt said over the past three years, the program has received $398,000 from the City of South Bend. He said he hopes to hire two people to add to the programs Outreach Team, which goes out into the community and schools to help.

“It’s about doing it with less arrests, offering opportunities for people to change their lifestyle,” he said. “You can’t make a person get out of a gang but you can give them another family.”

Pastor Canneth Lee, an Outreach team member, said gang-related shooting deaths have decreased since the start of the year, but peaked in March when six people were shot at a house party. Hunt said 10 percent of the city’s violent crimes are gang related.

Buttigieg said there’s still more to be done when it comes to violence in the city.

“You’re always trying to get ahead of the next issue, not just respond to the last one,” said Buttigieg. “That’s why we need those resources in the budget to address these issues.”

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