Context: In 1992, when Rodrigo Guerrero was elected mayor of Cali, Colombia, his platform was built on the foundation that he would decrease the rising rates of violence during his term. People felt that the city’s biggest problem was violence, especially homicide. Everyone seemed to know someone who had been a victim of some kind of violence. An overview of the steps taken to develop an intervention to prevent violence follows.
IDENTIFY WHAT NEEDS TO HAPPEN FOR THE COMMUNITY'S GOALS TO BE MET.
The mayor and people shared a vision of a Cali community that was one of development, security, and peace. For those changes to occur, new programs had to be developed for police, the judicial system, and the local human rights offices. Programs were also developed to improve the lives of community members, including programs to meet the basic needs of the poor.
ASSESS THE LEVEL OF THE PROBLEM PR GOAL.
People in the community regarded violence as a growing problem. The mayor felt it was important to have a clearer idea of the actually rates of homicide in the city. Epidemiological studies were conducted to identify the principal risk factors for violence and to shape the priorities for action. At the time the intervention developed, Cali had approximately 2 million inhabitants. The rates of homicide had risen from 23 in 100,000 in 1983, to 85 per 100,000 in 1991. The study also found that 30% of homicide victims were intoxicated. Homicides tended to increase on the weekends, public pay days, public holidays, election days, and were concentrated in areas of nightlife. Ninety percent of homicides were committed with firearms. The victims were overwhelmingly young, male, and low-income.
DESCRIBE THOSE WHOM THE INTERVENTION SHOULD BENEFIT.
The intervention was intended to benefit the community as a whole. The mayor of Cali worked to make educational information on tolerance available to the whole community. Television advertisements, scheduled to show at peak watching times, highlighted the importance of tolerance of others and self-control. He also collaborated with nongovernmental agencies to organize a variety of cultural and educational projects for schools and families to promote discussions on violence and help to resolve interpersonal conflicts.
INDICATE HOW YOU WILL OBTAIN CLIENTS' INPUT, IDENTIFYING AND ANALYZING PROBLEMS AND GOALS TO BE ADDRESSES BY THE INTERVENTION
To provide a solid basis for an effective intervention, Rodrigo Guerrero, mayor of Cali, brought together experts with different knowledge and experience to map out patterns of violence. This group included demobilized guerrillas, representatives of the labor unions, members of the Catholic Church, and leaders of the private sector. They all came together to design a policy and strategy to deal with the problem of violence. A big part of the intervention was gathering input from the community. The approach recognized that effective violence prevention cannot be imposed from above, but must really be supported by the community. For this reason, the municipal government created a Security Council to look at crime patterns across the city, neighborhood by neighborhood. Each week, the council held a two-hour meeting in one of the city's 20 districts, open to the public and attended by community and municipal leaders, to seek practical solutions to public security problems in that particular area.
ANALYZE THE PROBLEM OR GOALS TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE INTERVENTION.
The mayor and the community members of Cali carefully analyzed the problems that the community was facing in regards to violence. The availability of guns and the lack of gun control laws were found to be major contributing factors. Alcohol was another contributing factor. Economic instability and extreme poverty were recognized as contributors to violence as well. There also was a lack of accurate information about homicides and violence since records reflected only bodies found, not people who later died from violence in hospitals.
SET GOALS AND OBJECTIVES FOR WHAT SUCCESS WOULD LOOK LIKE
Desepaz was brought about to promote social development, provide education in pacifism values, and to foster democratic policing. Success of this program would mean lower rates of homicide for the community, a more educated and involved community and police force, and a community that encourages development, security, and peace.
Success of the intervention would be seen in lowered rates of violence and homicide. The income disparity would be addressed by the community as a whole, but specifically by the government. Educational and cultural programs would be in place to give people alternatives to occupy their time. The community as a whole would feel as though combating violence was a part of their job, not something just to be handled by the police and judicial system. People also would have a greater knowledge of actual crime rates, an improved reporting system, and new ways to combat violence. People would also learn specific actions they can take to prevent themselves from acting violently or having violent crimes committed against them. People in the community would report that they now feel their community is a safer place to live in, and they are less concerned with becoming victims of violence.
SPECIFY THE CORE COMPONENTS AND ELEMENTS OF THE INTERNVENTION BASED ON THE ANALYSIS AND IDENTIFIED BEST PRACTICES. DEVELOP AN ACTION PLAN TO CARRY OUT THE INTERVENTION, INCLUDING THE MODE OF DELIVERY.
DESEPAZ was the name given to the multi-component intervention to prevent violence in Cali.
From the evidence gathered, the group decided that it was not possible to find a single cause that could explain the complete picture of the violence in the city, so they decided that it was necessary to come up with a comprehensive intervention to have a significant impact. They also decided that the intervention had to be based on scientific research. At that time, there was significant disagreement among the different authorities on the number of homicides, since police data did not coincide with data from other sources. There was no information about the simplest descriptive aspects of violence in the city, such as the profiles of the victims and perpetrators and the specific circumstances in which crimes took place. The contribution of drug traffic and organized crime to the city's violence was completely unknown. It was agreed that a system to provide accurate and timely crime information was crucial. Prevention of violence also became a priority. It was decided that prevention should be prioritized even though it was accepted that traditional control measures were also needed. The extraordinarily high levels of violence in the city called for prevention as the main strategy since traditional methods, like increasing the number of police or increasing the number of incarcerated criminals, were not possible. Citizens must participate in efforts to reduce violence. It was necessary to change the traditional way of thinking in Colombia, according to which, crime is the police's business. The mayor started an effort to encourage the involvement of all citizens and community organizations in the solution of the problem. Empowering the community was a key strategy to improve public safety. Violence and crime were considered to be too important to be left in the hands of the police and military alone. A climate of tolerance and respect for others’ rights as a base for peaceful living were actively promoted by the administration. Education on human rights and constitutional obligations should be disseminated. Social equity is a prerequisite for peace. It was decided that special efforts were to be made to correct the existing inequalities in education, environmental sanitation, housing, etc., as conditions that had to be corrected if a healthy social climate was to be created for Cali.
The violence prevention effort in Cali used different modes of delivery. Television was used for messages about reducing violence since it was available to virtually all people, including many of the poor. Led by an epidemiologist, a Committee was created that included representatives of the Police, Judiciary, Forensic Medicine, Health, and Human Rights sectors. This group held weekly meetings to analyze and reach consensus on the occurrences of crime in the previous week and to prepare a report for the Municipal Security Council that met weekly as well. One of the first tasks of the group was to agree upon an operational definition for each of the different factors of crime.
In addition, a special training program on human rights was conducted for the police, based on the Colombian Constitution and specific skills related to their performance as police agents of peace and security. To achieve proper coordination and maximum efficiency in the use of resources, the mayor presided over a weekly meeting of the heads of all the institutions involved in law enforcement (e.g.; the police, army, courts, etc.). In these meetings, statistical information about the violent deaths of the past week was analyzed and plans were coordinated for law enforcement action.
At the request of citizens and community and neighborhood leaders, special private meetings were organized with the local law enforcement agents to discuss specific safety-related issues and to plan local interventions. This proved to be an effective way of restoring trust between citizens and authorities. As a result, citizens started to provide information about criminals.
The first "House of Peace" was inaugurated in the largest poverty-stricken area of the city. This house offered the opportunity to enhance personal contact among staff members of different institutions and proved to be effective in enhancing cooperation, coordination, and effectiveness in their work. Another House of Peace was built later in other low-income area of the city.
Alcohol production is a monopoly and the main source of revenue for the states in Colombia. Alcohol consumption is a part of cultural Colombian celebrations. To address alcohol abuse the city government established the "ley semi seca" (semi-dry law) that ordered bars and discotheques to close at 1 a.m. on weekdays, and 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Before this ordinance was developed, they were open throughout the night. The reduction in the number of injuries reported by hospital and traffic authorities was so obvious that the measure could be retained despite the initial opposition of the owners of liquor selling establishments. Permission was obtained from the Ministry of Defense to forbid the use of permits to carry firearms on holidays.
There were also efforts to address poverty and education. At the beginning of the mayor's tenure, there was a shortage of 25,000 primary school openings in the city. 40,000 new schools were opened so that 100% coverage for public primary education was insured for the next few years. There was improvement in the quality of education through the creation of six "Didactic Centers" in poor neighborhoods.
A wide array of educational commercials about peaceful coexistence, civic education, tolerance, and responsible behavior were broadcast through the local television channel. A mass media campaign was launched with collaboration of the private sector to educate Cali citizens on tolerance and respect. The group also created a program called "Children Friends of Peace". It consisted of inviting children to give up their war toys in exchange for 1) Free admittance to the City's recreational facilities for one year; 2) Training workshops on civic education and peace; and 3) A huge party in the City's largest and best furnished park, with clowns, puppets, and excellent raffles.
The opening of seventeen youth houses proved to be an effective way of providing young people from the poorer areas with a safe place to use as their own for parties, meetings, dancing, aerobics, and cultural events. Two popular music orchestras, several theater groups, and sports teams grew from one of the youth houses. After a year of preparation, a six month long Olympic Event took place, including many different sports and involving more than 100,000 participants of all sexes and ages.
INDICATE HOW YOU WILL ADAPT THE INTERVENTION OR BEST PRATICES TO FIT THE NEEDS AND CONTEXT OF YOUR COMUNITY.
With input from community members, Desepaz created programs and policies that fit the beliefs, traditions, and values of the people of Cali. The mayor sought extensive participation of the community.
PILOT TEST THE INTERVENTION ON A SMALL SCALE.
After months of research and planning the group assembled by the mayor submitted DESEPAZ for formal approval. With work by administration officials, the program was approved by city council. It was then implemented in the city of Cali in 1992.
IMPLEMENT THE INTERVENTION AND MONITOR AND EVALUATE THE PROCESS.
In 1999, the program had been in operation for seven years. Ongoing evaluations use the weekly reports to access improvements in mortality and injuries due to violence. Using this system allowed the people in charge to monitor the effectiveness of desepaz. Following comprehensive implement action in 1992, desepaz was associated with a 30% reduction of homicides over a 5 year period.