Reducing gun violence: A complicated problem can’t be solved with just one approach, so Indianapolis is trying programs ranging from job skills to therapy to violence interrupters to find out what works

Participants in ‘violence prevention’ programs seek to deescalate conflicts before they turn deadly. Andre Chung for The Washington Post via Getty Images

Thomas D. Stucky, IUPUI

Indianapolis is no stranger to gun violence. The city is also trying many promising approaches to reducing violence that – if proven successful – could benefit other urban areas across the U.S.

The city’s homicide rate in 2020, at 24.4 per 100,000 residents, was approximately triple the national average, and the city’s highest on record. Approximately 80% of those homicides were perpetrated using firearms.

Gun homicides ended about 240 lives there in a recent two-year period, according to a study regarding this city of 900,000 people. The number of people who were shot but survived was far higher, and firearms account for a significant number of suicide deaths.

I’m a former police officer who has studied policies and programs that seek to prevent gun violence since the late 1990s. I have periodically partnered with Indianapolis officials and community agencies on anti-violence initiatives coordinated by the local government with many private- and nonprofit-sector partners since 2004.

Though some approaches developed in other places have worked here, and Indianapolis has implemented many programs that have been shown to make a difference elsewhere, there’s still not enough data to pinpoint which specific programs are the most effective.

But given the urgency of the problem, I believe it’s important to keep test-driving promising methods based on the information available so far. And because Indianapolis experiences many of the same gun violence issues that other medium and large cities face, what’s learned here can apply in many other places.

Stepping up efforts to reduce gun violence

Indianapolis intensified its efforts to reduce gun violence in 2006, when 144 people died by homicide – up 27% from a year earlier.

That year Bart Peterson, then serving as the city’s mayor, created the Community Crime Prevention Task Force, in which I played a role. Its mission was to seek evidence-based recommendations to reduce violence.

After reviewing the relevant academic research, I identified best practices and the most promising violence-prevention strategies. The task force, in turn, made recommendations to the Indianapolis City-County Council.

The city subsequently began to increase funding for efforts to reduce gun violence in coordination with the Indianapolis Foundation, a local charity.

This private-public partnership has been supporting nonprofits engaged in several approaches to reducing gun violence ever since.

The overarching purpose of all these programs is to help the people who are the most likely to be wounded or killed by a gun to obtain services, such as job training and health care, in their communities and change norms away from gun violence to reduce that risk.

Because people killed by guns in Indianapolis are most likely to be male, young and Black, young Black men are a major focus for all the programs. Researchers have also determined that 3 in 4 gun homicide victims and suspects in the city were known to law enforcement through prior investigation, arrests or convictions. So that is another factor in terms of determining who gets these services.

Employing formerly incarcerated people

Other grants from the private-public partnership in Indianapolis have funded cognitive behavioral therapy for people at risk of engaging in or being victims of gun violence. This is a method in which people get help identifying and pushing back on their negative thoughts and behaviors, making it easier to resolve disputes without resorting to violence.

The city has also partnered with several community organizations to prevent gun violence.

One such group is Recycleforce, which hires formerly incarcerated people to recycle old electronic goods. It’s among several enhanced transitional job programs that provide services and training to the recently incarcerated.

One study showed that Recycleforce participants were 5.8% less likely to be arrested and 4.8% less likely to be convicted of a crime in the first six months of the period reviewed. However, in the second six months, the benefits were no longer statistically significant.

A second study used in-depth interviews to assess the program. It suggested that the peer-mentor model Recycleforce follows works well.

Preventing future gunshots

A large Indianapolis hospital, Eskenazi, also runs several important anti-violence programs. One, called Prescription for Hope, assists people treated there for gunshot wounds.

Like similar hospital-based programs around the country, the one based at Eskenazi helps participants develop effective life skills and connects them with community resources to reduce criminal and risky behaviors.

An initial study of the program showed that only about 3% of participants returned to the emergency department with a repeat violent injury within the first year, compared with an 8.7% rate when the program wasn’t underway. This translates to a two-thirds reduction in the likelihood that someone with a violent injury will need similar emergency medical assistance in the future.

‘Violence interruption’

In 2021, Indianapolis began to hire “violence interrupters” to calm contentious situations and reduce the risk of violent retaliation.

The “violence interruption” method connects people with personal ties to those most at risk of becoming involved in gun violence as victims or perpetrators.

Violence interrupters try to mediate disputes and calm things down on the streets, at parties and during funerals before any shooting starts. They have credibility with violence-prone people because of their past experiences.

The interrupters also help at-risk people to obtain services and to change gun violence norms in their communities.

Violence interruption, part of a growing public health approach to reining in violence, originated in Chicago in 2000. Now called the “cure violence model,” it has spread quickly amid generally positive research results.

Indianapolis was employing about 50 violence interrupters as of mid-2022.

More federal funding

Most of the city’s violence-prevention grants funding these efforts have been relatively small until now, ranging from US$5,000 to $325,000.

But U.S. cities, including Indianapolis, now have have until 2024 to tap into a comparatively large stream of federal funding for community-based violence intervention. That money was included in the $1.9 trillion stimulus package enacted in 2021.

Using these federal funds, the city is partnering with the Indianapolis Foundation to award grants totaling $45 million from 2022 through 2024 for local efforts to reduce gun violence.

Fortunately, Indianapolis’ homicides appear to be declining in 2022 compared with a year earlier.

As a local resident, I certainly welcome this news. But as researcher, I consider it to be too soon to tell whether this trend will continue or what the many public and private efforts to reduce gun violence underway will accomplish.

Thomas D. Stucky, Professor of Criminal Justice, IUPUI

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Making America’s New “Hybrid” Home Energy-Efficient Year Round

(NewsUSA) – The COVID-19 pandemic has forever changed the face of America’s workplace. In fact, an increasing number of folks might find their “new office” feels a lot like home — because it is literally their home.Our post-pandemic “return to the office” may look very different with hybrid or fully remote work models rapidly rising in popularity. Studies support this trend with 83% of workers believing a hybrid model would be optimal going forward, according to an Accenture survey. Further, 87% of managers believe working from home is the future, according to Remote-How research.While the new dynamic promises an improved work-life balance, it will also cause energy use and utility bills to skyrocket with technologies, appliances and systems running overtime at unprecedented levels — making optimal, energy-efficient home climate control a greater challenge.The good news is that families can prevent a utility-bill blitz by following a few simple tips. With home heating and cooling accounting for nearly half of home energy use, small steps can go a long way.* Ease Into Electric: According to Columbia University’s Earth Institute, electric systems are a solution to decarbonize home climate control. Among the most energy-efficient heating and cooling products, electricity-powered ductless mini-split systems, offered by companies including Fujitsu General America, can save as much as 25% on your energy bill. Mini-splits use thin copper tubing to pump refrigerant from an outdoor compressor directly into an indoor air-handling unit, where the air is quietly distributed to the interior space.* Get “Smart” About Climate Control: When it comes to smart home temperature control, there are Smart HVAC Systems and Smart Thermostats. Smart HVAC systems have built-in Internet capability and can be controlled directly without additional equipment. Smart Home Thermostats create “smart” systems by enabling remote temperature control via a mobile or Internet-connected device or voice-operated home automation system.* Voice Your Preference: Take control of your comfort. Most HVAC manufacturers offer apps that enable systems to be controlled from anywhere using a mobile device. Voice-control capability uses digital assistants, such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home, to verbally dictate home temperatures. Easily controlling the temperature more closely allows homeowners to be more comfortable and improve energy savings.* Find Your Efficient Comfort Zone: Many of us live in homes designed for bigger families, but have yet to downsize. If you find yourself using a fraction of your home on a regular basis, consider upgrading to a zoned ducted, or ductless system. That will allow you to save energy heating and cooling spaces where you and your family don’t spend a lot of time. This will multiply savings as you’re not only needing less cooling, but you also gain from a more efficient system in the spaces you do still use.* Try Low-tech Fixes: Simple changes can have a big impact. Take advantage of the sun’s energy to heat your home by opening your south-facing curtains at sunrise to make best use of “passive solar gain.” Force down warm air. Denser, cooler air stays closer to the ground, and warmer air rises. So, force it downwards with a low-speed fan. Insulate and fill the gaps. Warmed air leaking out around poorly sealed window frames, power sockets, recessed light fittings, and other gaps is a big source of heat loss in homes. And thick curtains help to insulate glass at windows.If your family is spending a lot more time at home and your utility bills are soaring, a ductless heating and cooling system is definitely a worthwhile investment. Many Fujitsu systems have an Energy Star rating that is more than twice as efficient as the minimum standard set by the government. To learn more or find a contractor near you, call 888-888-3424 or visit

Governors Zero In On Window Film’s Energy Savings

(NewsUSA) – A third of U.S. Governors have recognized window film as a cost-effective solution to reducing energy costs in homes, protecting skin and home decor from the sun’s damaging UV rays, and enhanced window glass safety. The International Window Film Association (IWFA) is sharing recent proclamations kindly made by those governors on its website.”Consumers and government officials are zeroing in on window films as a cost-effective energy saving solution designed to reduce high utility bills and carbon emissions and they can be installed at about one-tenth the cost of a re-placement window and offer similar performance ratings,” explains Darrell Smith, executive director of the IWFA.Window films, which may be installed in a day or less without significant disruption, are widely seen to save about five to 10 percent of a building’s total energy bill. Many window films, which are all permanently adhered to the glass, are also designed to block 40 to 60 percent of room heat being lost through glass during the heating season while still reducing air conditioning costs by 30 percent during the cooling season.According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), cooling and heating account for more than half of the energy use in a typical U.S. home, making it the largest energy expense for most homes. The DOE also points out that roughly 40 percent of unwanted heat that builds up in a home comes in through windows and that windows also account for up to 50 percent of a building’s energy loss.Consumer awareness of the energy saving benefit of window film has increased nearly 50 percent in eight years, from 54 percent of Americans in 2014 being aware that window film can help control interior temperatures, to 79 percent of homeowners this year being aware that window film may improve the energy saving performance of their existing windows today.While window films differ in how they perform based on how they are manufactured, they can reduce solar heat gain in your home by as much as 80 percent. This means fewer if any hot spots, more even interior room temperatures and less power consumption so your air conditioning system may keep up with the sun’s heat.This benefit is especially noticeable when the sun is at it’s peak energy transmittance during the day, which is when utility companies have to produce more power to meet the increased peak demand from both homeowners and businesses. Find window film at