NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) – Police and community organizations in North Charleston have been receiving training from a national non-profit based in Chicago to help curb gun violence in the city.
The Violence Interrupters, and its founder Tio Hardiman, were brought to the area by North Charleston Police Chief Reggie Burgess.
Hardiman said he came up with the concept after he mediated a potential hit on his own life in Chicago. He said his federally recognized program is about changing concepts and mindsets surrounding violence, which he says is a public health concern.
Non-profits and police officers have been training with Hardiman over the past week. They have been learning techniques on anger management, community engagement and how to deal with trauma and using data to measure their success.
Hardiman said Violence Interrupters do not share information with officers and do not work as informants. The main goal is to mediate between parties to stop violence from happening.
He said the program also dives into the root causes of violence, which he said are similar across the country.
“Being an African American man in America, everything is similar to me in North Charleston, same way it is in Chicago, because it’s just the beat and the heartbeat of the community,” Hardiman said. “It’s just different people, different names, but it’s the same struggle. We struggle with poverty. We struggle with poor housing, poor educational systems, so it’s systemic. We all just have to understand we’re all one big community.”
Hardiman said the program also works with people who have committed violent crimes to change the way they think to help make sure they do not do it again.
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