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Gun Violence De-Escalation Centers

Do You Know About a Situation That Could Turn Into Gun Violence?

Call our De-Escalation Hotline at 314.203.3900

Or visit one of our gun violence de-escalation centers at four churches around St. Louis:

  • North County: Greater St. Marks Family Church, 9950 Glen Owens Dr.
  • North City: New Northside Missionary Baptist, 8645 Goodfellow Blvd.
  • Mid-Town: Washington Metropolitan A.M.E. Zion Church, 613 N. Garrison Ave.
  • South City: Curby Memorial Presbyterian Church, 2621 Utah St.

Better Family Life’s VP of Community Outreach James Clark has developed a process to de-escalate possible gun violence by reaching out to one or all of the parties involved and to family and friends, asking that they speak with the person who has threatened to shoot. At least one of the disputing parties is asked to come in to talk and find possible solutions.

Now Better Family Life has set up De-Escalation Centers in neighborhoods throughout the St. Louis Metropolitan Area, including member churches in BFL’s Pulpit to Porches Initiative.

While observing confidentiality, representatives at the centers will document the dispute, location if applicable, and begin the resolution process. In instances where disputing parties agree, they will share more information about themselves and their experiences so we can develop and build upon prevention and de-escalation strategies.

For More Information: 314.381.8200


Gun Violence De-Escalation Centers In the News


BFL Gun Violence De-Escalation Centers

How and Why the Process Works

When mediation is requested, several actions will take place:

  1. Within hours of notification of the conflict, Outreach Mediators begin outreach to one or all parties involved in the dispute.
  2. A detailed case history is documented, because knowing the possible genesis of the conflict will inform the intervention strategy.
  3. Those family and friends closest to the disputing parties are identified and contacted – individuals most likely to care enough to take immediate action and will usually have the most leverage with the disputing parties.
  4. At least one of the disputing parties will be asked to come in to begin dialogue and look at possible solutions. At whatever point it is feasible and/or necessary, both disputing parties and some portion of their support system are engaged in the resolution dialogue.
  5. The need for application/engagement of immediate resources will be reviewed. In cases where volatility is high, one party may need to leave the area and go silent in order to provide the time and space for mediation to begin.
  6. Upon resolution, commitments to the agreement and to high-value contacts will be reviewed and follow-up conducted to ensure that the truce is holding.
  7. Any additional resources needed by the disputing parties and/or family members will be engaged.
  8. The well-distributed network of churches engaged in the Pulpits to Porches Initiative can provide a neutral base of operations for the effort.

Better Family Life Gun Violence De-Escalation Center

Volunteer counselors Dr. Marva Robinson, left, and Adrian Wrice discuss a case during drop-in hours in the basement of the New Northside Missionary Baptist Church. (photo: St. Louis Public Radio)

Future Locations

Better Family Life recognizes there is resident movement between neighborhoods and proposes to implement the Neighborhood Alliance Model and De-Escalation Centers in 12 of the neighborhoods identified in the P.I.E.R. Plan (Prevention, Intervention, Enforcement and Reentry) of St. Louis City and in the cluster of neighborhoods that connect the North County neighborhoods of Castle Point, Moline Acres, Bellefontaine, Glasgow and Spanish Lake, as well as the Wellston, Pagedale, Pine Lawn cluster.

This multi-neighborhood approach will create a pervasive, coordinated thrust in connecting residents to critical resources that can interrupt the persistent culture of violence across the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.