DeKalb wants ‘proactive’ approach to violence reduction

Emory University, Emory Healthcare, and DeKalb County Government hosted a symposium focusing on violence prevention on Oct. 30 at Emory University’s Miller Ward Alumni House.

At the 2023 Emory Violence Prevention Symposium, experts shared information about research, existing programs, outcomes, and policy considerations for violence prevention.

Guest speakers and experts included researchers and staff from Emory, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Morehouse School of Medicine, Grady Memorial Hospital, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, DeKalb County School District, and other community-based organizations.

Several speakers and guests referenced the string of violent crimes occurring in both Atlanta and DeKalb in recent months – including four teens who were shot in DeKalb on Oct. 28, just days before the event.

The event covered numerous topics, including new ways to identify crime hotspots, different datasets, the importance of violence and crime reduction being a community-wide effort, partnerships that DeKalb County and Atlanta police departments use to help fight crime, and methods to reduce to crime and violence.

In addition to speakers at the event, State Representative Becky Evans and members of local law enforcement agencies attended as part of the general public.
Dekalb County Government CEO Michael Thurmond was among the speakers and said he believes the event and the county’s partnership with Emory—which extends past the symposium—will save lives.

After the event concluded, Thurmond said the partnership with Emory is “fully integrated” and intended to help Emory leverage its expertise in research and problem solving when it comes to violence and trauma “primarily as a result of gun violence,” he added.

Speakers from Emory said they are accessing new datasets and working with different government officials and police departments to find new crime hotspots and new ways to address crime by providing alternatives for those communities.

Thurmond said county officials hope the approach creates a proactive response to violence versus being reactive. To do so, Thurmond said the county has funded violence prevention centers at Emory Hillandale and Grady Hospital.

DeKalb also created a DeKalb Youth Safety and Violence Prevention Grant for community partnerships with local organizations that provide youth violence prevention and intervention strategies in 2022 and has funded the police athletic league that is intended to curb violence, among supporting other local programs.

“One of the most compelling things I talked about was that if you survive a shooting, there’s a 40 percent chance you have a second gun-related injury … and there’s a 20 percent chance you’ll be dead,” said Thurmond. “It’s trauma, oftentimes we see the physical wound and don’t think of the mental damage that’s being done.”

Thurmond added that preventing the second incident is the primary focus of the violence prevention programs in which DeKalb has invested.

Thurmond said DeKalb is in the second year of its current partnerships and that there is already evidence of some success, referencing a speaker at the event who credited Grady’s violence prevention program with helping her after she was shot by a passenger while driving for Uber.

For more information about the partnership, or to volunteer for Emory’s violence prevention task force, visit the Violence Prevention Research Center tab at


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