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Talks continue to curb violence in Harrisburg

Updated: Friday, March 21 2014, 06:01 PM CDT
Reported by: Kyle Rogers

Within the last two weeks, violent crimes have been reported in Harrisburg, according to the city's police blotters. Now, the conversation continues on how to make the street's safe and one man's ideas have sparked the interest of city leaders.

Dr. John Reuwer, a faculty member of the National Peace Academy, visited with city leaders to discuss how his experiences in conflict resolution from across the world could help the city deal with such violence.

His approach would promote non-violence communication where neighbors and homeowners would be trained on how to prevent the acts of violence, including a method where criminals who served their time would share their experiences with young people -- hoping to avoid others from going down similar paths.

"By recruiting ex-offenders and people who knew what created the culture in the streets to interrupt the transition of one killing leading to another," Reuwer explained on the concept of an Interruptors program.

Modeled from a public health initiative years ago, trained 'interruptors' would be able to spot crime as it's happening and warn those involved of the consequences.

Using strategies implemented throughout the country, Reuwer hopes young people would be taught how to not blame and resolve conflicts peacefully.

"Violence simply says I'm going to get what I want at your expense," recalled Reuwer, the brother of CBS 21 News Chief Meteorologist Tom Russell. "Non-violence says I'm going to get what I want while helping you get what I want. That's the difference between violence and non-violence," he said.

Utilizing peace teams, neighbors would be trained how to spot the potential for crime and how to handle such situations without violence.

Joyce Davis, a spokesperson for the Harrisburg mayor, said Reuwer has been in touch with the mayor and police chief, who both welcomed his suggestions. Davis said while Reuwer's pro-bono was insightful, she hopes the conversations will only continue and that funding such training programs would come from grants the city would obtain.Talks continue to curb violence in Harrisburg


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