KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Knoxville leaders are looking to a rigorous new violent crime reduction initiative to help inform efforts to make the city safer.

Knoxville is one of the first cities selected to partner with the newly-established Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction at the University of Maryland. The center will be led by Thomas Abt, a former prosecutor who previously served as New York Secretary for Public Safety.

“He recently wrote a book called “Bleeding Out” which is a new approach to being able to reduce violence in America.” Knoxville Chief of Police Paul Noel said. “Before I took this job, I read the book several times. I really believe in his approaches and I’m excited to work with him to reduce violence in Knoxville.”

The new center will use data-driven research focusing on the city’s crime issues to help form possible solutions that law enforcement will be able to implement.

“The only goal is to save lives. Saving lives of the people of Knoxville – that’s what we want to do, that’s what we’re going to do, and that’s what we’re in the process of doing,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon said of the study. “We’re not waiting to have a perfect plan. We’re going to start moving forward on these initiatives we already have but we’re going to continue to develop partnerships and alignment and strategy that are going to be most effective.”

“This process is way more than about a study, right? It’s about putting together a comprehensive plan to be able to reduce violence in Knoxville.” Noel added

Noel also said that grassroots organizations are a vital part of keeping Knoxville safe.

“We’re trying to be more proactive in getting in front of some of the violence before it happens. We’re also working really closely with Turn Up Knox which is a new intervention and organization here in Knoxville, working with them as potential future violence can occur, we’re working with them to try to stop that before it occurs.”

Noel said that partnering with local groups is a large part of their research-based solution to reduce violent crime.

“Reducing violence really takes a community-wide effort. The police department plays a huge role, but the community plays a big role as well.”