Breaking News
More () »

Violence interrupters receive training from Mercy Heath on how to address physical, mental violence

Toledo's Safety Director Brian Byrd said teaching how to patch up bullet wounds and heal hearts is a step toward improving the city in the long run.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Toledo's violence interrupters are trained to handle situations in some of the city's roughest areas, but their expertise ends as soon as an ambulance arrives.

So, they're receiving hands-on training from Mercy Health, a partner with the city, to better understand their services.

"They spent some time with our trauma recovery team, they spent time in our emergency department and then they spent time with our forensic nurses, just so they understand the resources that are available to them if there's a significant event out there," Matt Sapara, Mercy Health's Vice President of Business Development, said.

It's all part of the Save our Community initiative, a program created by the city's Safety Director, Brian Byrd, to reduce violence in the city. And they plan to do so by not just healing physical wounds, but also psychological ones, by learning about resources for the victims of emotional trauma.

Byrd said the education will contribute to breaking the city's cycle of violence.

"People who are not only victims of, but also commiting, some of the violence, they're doing it because they lack something in their lives," Byrd said. "We have trust issues, resource issues, proverty issues, we have mental health issues. There's a lot of layers here, one layer at a time."

The violence interrupters are currently working in the Junction/Englewood region of Central Toledo and the Lagrange Street area of North Toledo, both of which have struggled with violence.

The city has had 30 homicides so far in 2022, compared to 2021's total of 70 homicides.

Byrd and Mercy Health representatives believe crime in the city is close to hitting a tipping point. They said bringing the interrupters, and their knowledge, directly into crime-challenged communities is finally offering Toledo a path toward healing.

"It's going to take some time to fix it, but what I think today signifies is that this is the beginning of the end," Sapara said.

Byrd said the city is also planning a third team of violence interrupters to set up shop on Toledo's East Side.

The city is actively hiring violence interrupters now, who will be seen working directly in the neighborhood's streets in the coming months.

To apply and for more information, follow this link to the job posting.

RELATED: Kids hear about consequences of crime from Toledo man who turned his own life around

RELATED: 'Big smile, little guy, big eyes': St. Francis president shares memories of student lost to gun violence

Before You Leave, Check This Out