City's Violence Interrupters Fan Out in Dallas, Bringing Resources and Call to End Violence

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A group of community members, including reformed offenders, is targeting Dallas neighborhoods plagued by crime.

Their mission starts this week.

This is part of the mayor's task force to reduce crime that recommended deploying ‘credible messengers’ to interrupt violence.

Drive around South Oak Cliff and you might see them.

They'll be dressed in bright orange T shirts and eager to stand out.

“This is Dallas Cred,” said Mar Butler showing off his t-shirt logo. “When you see this shirt right here you know we are the good guys that are coming to help.”

Program Director Mar Butler wearing Dallas Cred t-shirt

Dallas Cred is a partnership with the city of Dallas aimed at cutting down on violent crime using violence interrupters. Those who've been there before.

Butler is the new program director of Dallas Cred, an extension of Youth Advocacy Programs or YAP.

The program has been in place for over 20 years ‘behind the scenes’ in Dallas and other cities, including Washington D.C., Baltimore and Chicago.

“You have people that look like you, that talk like you, that have been through what you’ve been through, it makes it easier to engage,” he said.

Butler is open about his own past involving brushes with the law over drugs and guns.

He transformed his life after being released from prison.

Butler is now a motivational speaker, deeply involved in helping empower young people who make harmful choices with tools to rebuild their lives.

“When you have an overwhelming amount of poverty like in these areas right here, it leads to criminal behavior taking place,” he said.

Dallas Cred is made up of 12 trained members who will fan out to four areas plagued by crime:

Overton and Illinois, Webb Chapel and Lombardi, Loop 12 and Jim Miller, as well as the areas around Camp Wisdom and Gannon.

The group has been receiving final training and began its rollout on Monday.

They’ve received information about the peak times for violence in these areas and are on-call 24 hours Monday through Saturday.

“We’re not trying to apprehend crime, we’re just offering different alternatives to violent behaviors,” said Butler. “This is strictly about disparities versus relief.”

Butler says they will identify people in need of help and provide wrap-around services for them and their entire households.

“We’re coming to offer jobs, we’re coming to offer mental help, we’re coming to offer therapy and counseling,” he said. “We’re coming to offer that.”

With another summer upon us and tensions seemingly rising, Butler knows now is the time to act.

“It gives me a sense of urgency to say that we got to get out here and do something,” he said.

The city of Dallas is giving YAP $800,000 for the two-year program.

YAP Dallas Cred welcomes volunteers to join the effort. For more information, click here.

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