NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Metro Nashville police and government officials hope a new partnership will reduce violent crime and save lives.

According to the Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD), there have been 22 homicides in Nashville so far this year, compared to 15 during the same time period in 2022. Police report just over 200 robberies compared to about 250 by this time last year. Aggravated assault reports are up to almost a thousand after the first two months of 2023. That’s about a 10% increase from the same period in 2022.

“What we see is that the overwhelming amount of violence is driven by a very small number of people,” said Laurie Owen, Director of Group Violence Intervention for National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC). “On average, we see about point 6% of the population responsible for 50%, or more of the homicides in the city.”

She said this seems to be persistent across cities, regardless of where they are in the country, so the group works with cities to target that small number of people through group violence intervention.

“What we see is that if one person has a problem with someone, it’s likely that their friends do too. And that’s kind of how these disputes go back and forth over time,” said Owen. “What we try to do is really get granular enough with our information to identify what those disputes are, what’s driving them, who it involves, and then we can go out and meet with people to try to get out ahead of that violence, see if they need services, help them to change their behavior so that they can be safe, alive and out of prison.”

She said they pay close attention to data in whatever city they’re helping, and community involvement is a significant part of their work.

“We also work to include a lot of community members, because this is really about informal social control and relying on relationships within the community to help drive down violence,” said Owen. “We’re looking at using law enforcement, or more importantly, sanctioning by law enforcement as an absolute last resort.”

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Owen explained that NNSC dates back to Boston in the nineties where their work led to a reduction in violence. Now they work with cities across the U.S. In Louisville, Kentucky there was an 8% decrease in fatal shootings in 2022. Miami-Dade, Florida saw the number of shootings are down in the northside and southern areas of the city.

“Cities have either taken In a law enforcement approach with a very aggressive law enforcement, deployment, or they’re taking a very service oriented approach, which is really to give people a lot of services with the hope that, you know, addressing some of those root causes, will help drive down violence. Neither of those stand-alones really work,” said Owen. “What we do differently is bring a partnership together. And that involves both the law enforcement and the service providers.”