Interrupters are part of a multi-level effort to end Toledo gun violence

They are part of Toledo’s Save Our Community program.
There are now nine Interrupters, but the plan is to add three more in the near future
Published: Sep. 13, 2022 at 6:37 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - Gun violence continues to plague our city but there’s a multi-layered approach to help change that.

From police to community-based programs, there are a lot of organizations with boots on the ground. Among the many options is a City of Toledo program that uses so-called Interrupters. There are currently nine interrupters on the streets.

The goal is to add three more to the ranks shortly. There is also a plan to expand the program’s reach. For the second time this year, there were three murders in Toledo within the span of 24 hours.

With the increase in gun violence, David Bush, Commissioner of Save Our Community, said the work of the interrupters is necessary.

“What our interrupters do is not only canvassing an area but being more intentional. We want to be seen. We want to be heard. We want to be at football games, schools as well as public places and spaces,” Bush said.

While stopping violence is the main target of this program, Bush said it’s about much more.

“We’re not only interrupting violence but the cycle of poverty, too. Violence has a girlfriend and her name is poverty, and they hang together very well.”

Bush said he was at the funeral of a homicide victim when he heard about the latest rash of murders.

“It’s taxing. It pulls down your energy level. But each day I get up and say ‘what can I do to make a change in my community.’ You can’t stop. It’s too important.”

The focus is on getting help to anyone who needs It, especially young people.

“Kids want to know you care for them, and that authenticity is what can change our community,” said Bush.

Angel Tucker, the city’s Deputy Director of Public, said it’s imperative to highlight the resources in the under-resourced communities.

“When we talk about under-resourced communities, a lot of times there are resources there. We’re here for you. Before you pull the trigger, stop and think. You don’t have to let everybody know, but call the Interrupters, reach out to them,” Tucker said.

By doing that, Tucker said we are hopefully stopping people before they find what he calls a permanent solution to a temporary problem.

“I know you’re young, and you think you got this, but you don’t. It all comes back. Not only did you take a life, but you’re losing your life.”

Tucker said getting our community to a better place is not one-size-fits-all.

“We need to meet people where they are, figure out their starting point and help them with wrap-around services and guide them to the finish line. That finish line is really just the beginning.”

The Interrupters’ work is focused on places like the Junction-Englewood area and the Lagrange corridor. The hope is to expand the program to east Toledo next month.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please include the title when you click here to report it.