KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Policymakers in Knoxville are learning what can be done and how regarding violent crimes thanks to a new center out of Maryland that will develop data-driven research around the city’s crime issues. The City of Knoxville has been selected to partner with a new Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction at the University of Maryland that will research evidence-based solutions to reduce violent crime.

“We are honored that 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, led by @Abt_Thomas and Rod Brunson,” Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon tweeted Wednesday morning.

The University of Maryland’s Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction was announced in November as part of the university’s “The 120 Initiative” which aims to “provide actionable solutions addressing the United States’ gun violence crisis,” according to a news release. The Violence Reduction Center will gather research on community violence, synthesize it and make it available – free of charge – to the public as well as local, state and federal leaders.

Then, those leaders can learn from the center’s instructions on how to choose, apply, and align the right combination of anti-violence strategies for their particular jurisdiction, officials say.

The Violence Reduction Center is led by UMD faculty member Thomas Abt, who is a senior fellow at the nonpartisan Council on Criminal Justice and chair of its Violent Crime Working Group; he previously served as deputy secretary for public safety to Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York, and as the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs’ chief of staff.

“To put it plainly, the mission of the VRC is to save lives by stopping violence. By combining rigorous research with real-world know-how, we can help policymakers make the right choices in this critical public policy area,” Abt stated in a release regarding the creation of the Violence Reduction Center. ​“I’m grateful to both the University and Arnold Ventures for providing this important opportunity.”

The Violence Reduction Center was made possible with support from Arnold Ventures, described in its release as “a philanthropy dedicated to tackling some of the most pressing problems in the United States.”

Knoxville is among the first cities selected by the Violence Reduction Center. The city stated in a tweet Wednesday morning “this work will help lead to evidence-based, community-involved strategies to reduce violent crime in our city.”

KPD kicks off partnership

Last week, members of the Knoxville Police Department took part in a four-day violence reduction practicum, which marked the beginning of Knoxville’s partnership with Thomas Abt’s newly-established Center for the Study and Practice of Violence Reduction.

“I am thrilled that Knoxville is one of the flagship cities nationwide selected to partner with @Abt_Thomas’s Violence Reduction Center,” KPD Chief Paul Noel tweeted Wednesday. “This partnership will result in a collaborative, sustainable plan to reduce violent crime and save lives with research-backed solutions.”

The practicum, KPD said Wednesday, which also included community partners and local service providers, “laid the groundwork for future efforts to mitigate and reduce violent crime through evidence-based and community-involved strategies.”

“We look forward to continuing the work with the Violence Reduction Center to develop a plan that meets the needs of Knoxville and makes a difference in the violence impacting the community,” KPD shared in a Facebook post.