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Aurora Launches New Approach to Youth Violence

Aurora Launches New Approach to Reducing Youth Violence
Posted on 08/08/2023
Aurora SAVE logo (Standing Against Violence Every Day)

The city of Aurora is in the early stages of implementing a new approach to reducing youth violence, called Standing Against Violence Every Day (SAVE). Aurora SAVE will utilize a proven model that has repeatedly demonstrated how cities can dramatically reduce violence when community members, social service providers and law enforcement communicate directly with groups who are engaging in violence.

SAVE is a focused deterrence strategy and a collaboration between the Aurora Police Department (APD), Youth Violence Prevention Program (YVPP) and community partners with strong support from Aurora leaders.

“I am very passionate about addressing youth violence,” Aurora City Council Member Angela Lawson said. “Public safety is a top priority for our City Council. We’ve been able to secure much-needed funding to move us forward, and we need everybody — law enforcement, service providers and community partners — on board to make this work.”

SAVE is modeled after the Group Violence Intervention (GVI) strategy that focuses on community groups at highest risk for violent victimization and offending, with the intention to keep individuals alive, safe and free.

“Much work remains, but this is a successful route to reducing crime, strengthening our neighborhoods, narrowing the net of law enforcement and keeping our most vulnerable alive and out of prison,” Aurora City Council Member Ruben Medina said.

The local SAVE initiative took a significant step forward in early August, with three days of internal trainings in Aurora. The presentations provided information on the key components of the GVI strategy and a platform for partners to identify violence dynamics occurring in Aurora. GVI is designed to reduce homicides and non-fatal shootings.

“These are ordinary neighborhoods with a small number of high-risk people,” said Captain Mike Hanifin of the Aurora Police Department and SAVE Co-Director. “Historically, law enforcement entities would flood select neighborhoods with enforcement measures such as arrests, prosecutions and incarcerations. With SAVE, we seek to reach the specific, limited number of people who are driving the violence.”

“GVI is a way for Aurora’s partners to focus on the few and not the many,” said Joseph DeHerrera, Youth Violence Prevention Program Manager and SAVE Co-Director. “Through these partnerships, we can identify high-risk people and carefully work with them in safe spaces that are more effective and don’t cause unintended harm.”

Moving forward, Aurora partners will begin utilizing different methods of communication such as a call-in, a face-to-face meeting between group members and the strategy’s partners; or a custom notification, a quick, direct communication to particular group members.

GVI requires the collaboration of regional partners committed to the approach. A Governing Board, which includes Lawson, Medina and other city leaders, has been established. The Governing Board also includes representatives from:

  • 17th and 18th Judicial District DA
  • A1 Boxing
  • Adams County Public Health
  • Arapahoe County Public Health
  • Aurora Public Schools
  • Cherry Creek School District
  • Aurora Mental Health & Recovery
  • Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives
  • Colorado Department of Corrections
  • Federal Bureau of Investigation
  • U.S. Attorney’s Office
  • University of Colorado Hospital

SAVE was established through the city’s Public Safety Partnership (PSP), part of the Department of Justice. In 2021, the city of Aurora was selected as one of 10 sites to participate in the PSP with the goal of enhancing its capacity to reduce violent crime and enhance safety in our community.

The National Network for Safe Communities (NNSC) at John Jay College of Criminal Justice works with partners in communities and law enforcement to develop and implement the GVI strategy. NNSC strategies have been successfully implemented in more than 60 cities — including Chicago, Miami and Philadelphia — with the city of Aurora being the first in Colorado to implement GVI with the NNSC.

NNSC recently conducted an "Aurora, Colorado Group Violence Intervention Problem Analysis Report (July 2023)". The report findings are consistent with cities across the country, where identified groups typically account for half of all serious incidents of violence.

The GVI model is rooted in focused-deterrence crime prevention, which deters specific problematic behavior by understanding the underlying dynamics and conditions that sustain that behavior; identify the individuals and groups most frequently engaged in that behavior; and respond to this small population with a blend of direct communication, community engagement, support and services and strategic enforcement measures.

The community can stay updated on SAVE by visiting the city website at

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