Special Projects Fund

Project Title

Preventing Gun Violence Using a Community Engagement Model

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Special Projects Fund

Date Awarded

September 21, 2018


Finger Lakes





The City of Rochester suffers from extraordinary and persistent levels of serious violence.

In 2017, Rochester had a homicide rate of 13.9 per 100,000 residents, compared with a national rate of approximately 5 per 100,000. The homicide rate has remained relatively stable over the last 15 years, with an increase in the proportion attributed to gun violence. In addition to physical harm and disabling conditions, victims of gun violence can experience emotional numbing, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep disturbances, and other disorders. Efforts taken by the Rochester Police Department to reduce retaliatory violence have shown promise, but suffer from a lack of victim and witness cooperation. This gap left by law enforcement means that a strategy of community engagement to reduce violence may be an effective, complementary approach. In 2018, NYHealth awarded Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) a grant to support a new gun violence reduction model that uses a community engagement and hospital-based intervention designed to reduce gun violence and associated health system costs.

Under this grant, RIT undertook a proof of concept project, partnering with Rochester General Hospital (RGH), Pathways to Peace (a local nonviolence street outreach program), and other community-based organizations specializing in victim intervention. The project focused on an area where more than 40% of gun-related disputes occur, with a goal of reducing the cycle of escalating violence and gun victimization events. Community-based organizations worked with gun violence victims in RGH’s emergency department and tailored intervention responses based on the nature of the dispute without involving the police. Selected cases were assigned to victim intervention specialists, who held ongoing reviews with the victim, made needed adjustments, and tracked subsequent violence associated with the dispute. Interventions were monitored until the dispute had been resolved or was deemed to have cooled. Data was collected and an evaluation conducted to see whether different types of victims responded to particular interventions and which factors increased the chances for a successful intervention in retaliatory disputes. If the proof of concept was successful, steps will be taken to sustain and replicate the program in Rochester and other areas.

See RIT’s paper in the American Journal of Criminal Justice, “The Impact of Covid-19 on Community-Based Violence Interventions,” exploring the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on hospital-based violence interventions and how community-based organizations can adapt to continue serving their communities.