The Violence Reduction Network (VRN) is a program of the United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance which aims to provide training and technical assistance to some of the cities with the highest rates of violence in the United States. To date, ten cities have received this help, and for 2016 three additional cities have been added: St. Louis, New Orleans, and Milwaukee.
I was in Washington DC today, attending the spring VRN summit at the request of the Feds, to provide some support to New Orleans and Milwaukee on a topic near-and-dear to us in Lincoln: crime analysis. Just click the link to that tag in the label cloud on my blog, and you'll see that we do a lot of work in Lincoln guided by data and analysis. We've developed somewhat of a reputation, hence the invitation--even though I'm not so sure our experience with such things as party disturbances and garage burglaries translates entirely to such things as car jackings and muggings.
Rather than making a presentation, though, my colleague Dr. Noah Fritz from Tempe AZ and I tried to facilitate discussion. These two cities have a pretty clear idea of their problems, issues, and challenges. They don't need us to figure that out, but sometimes an outside facilitator can help in lubricating a productive and frank assessment of where we are, where we want to be, and what we need to do to get there.
I hope that was the case. It takes a certain amount of courage for the VRN cities to step forward and ask for federal assistance, and I applaud them for their efforts. I made good contacts with New Orleans and Milwaukee, and hope I can be of further help in their efforts to leverage data and analysis to guide police tactics and strategies to effectively deal with violence in their communities.