NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — On Tuesday, Metro Council approved a $1.98 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to put “credible messengers” who have had “trouble in their lives” in high-crime areas across Nashville.
The goal of the grant is to reduce violent crime by embedding three people in neighborhoods in hopes they can interrupt or disrupt crimes.
“This person may be someone and preferably will be someone that may have had some trouble in their lives, but they have decided that they want it to change,” Director of Community Safety Ron Johnson explained. “One who has the respect of the community and respect of the young people and old people that may be perpetuating violence…not someone that you’re just dropping there.”
In addition to paying for the hiring of three credible messengers, the grant provides the funds to hire a case manager and a data and research specialist who will analyze the community’s impact.
Johnson’s vision is this new team will also work with other violence prevention groups across the city.
“When I say all hands on deck, this is really everybody finding their way, finding their role,” he said.
He hopes to start looking for potential applicants in the next 60-90 days, but he knows finding the right people for the job won’t be easy.
“This work is not like walking in the park; this is messy work, and so you got to prepare to deal with any of the mess that comes along with it, and then you correct it, and then you move on,” Johnson said.
Once launched, the program will last for about three years.