WASHINGTON (DC News Now) — Are D.C.’s violence interrupter programs actually reducing gun violence? That’s the focus of a new four-year study led by two local college professors.

Many say that D.C. continues to have a gun violence problem. The city has already seen 61 homicides this year.

Since 2018, the District government has had two violence interruption programs aiming to curb those numbers.

“Can we estimate the effects these programs are having on shootings and homicides?” said Daniel Webster, Bloomberg professor of American Health and the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Violence Solutions.

Webster and Dr. Joseph Richardson, The Joel and Kim Feller Professor and MPower Professor of African-American Studies and Medical Anthropology at the University of Maryland, want to answer that question.

“We want to generate information that ultimately is effective or helpful in strengthening programs so that there’s less gun violence in the District of Columbia,” Webster said.

D.C. has two separate programs for violence interrupters and credible messengers, one through the D.C. Office of Neighborhood Safety and Engagement and one through the Attorney General’s office.

The most recent data from the attorney general’s office shows in violence-prone areas of Wards 1, 4, 5, 7 and 8, shootings have increased over the past two years while gun homicides stayed the same.

“We have people who live in the neighborhoods in DC that have been impacted by violence and violence and representatives are often working with and they overlap multiple systems,” Richardson said.

Their job is to make sense of what works from the perspective of violence interrupters and those they’re working with.

“Those are two, maybe two different stories and we need to find out whether the strategies that the violence interrupters are using actually align with what people perceive as effective approaches to reduce conflict,” Richardson said.

Webster and Richardson plan on sharing data as they go.

“Because our ultimate goal is that these programs become stronger and more effective as a result of our work,” Webster said.

The funding comes from Arnold Ventures, a philanthropy. The two professors have $1.8 million to spend over four years.