Center for American Progress

Community Violence Intervention: James Timpson and Roca’s Use of CBT

Community Violence Intervention: James Timpson and Roca’s Use of CBT

James “JT” Timpson explains how the Roca Impact Institute uses a cognitive behavioral theory approach to empower individuals to de-escalate dangerous situations and make safer decisions.

“We understand that if we build young people’s skills to make better decisions, then when they’re in those moments … it gives them an opportunity to slow down and make a different decision.”

In his role as the managing director of community violence initiatives at the Roca Impact Institute, James “JT” Timpson is responsible for bringing Roca’s innovative Rewire cognitive behavioral theory (CBT) strategy to community violence intervention (CVI) programs nationwide. In this video, JT explains Roca’s unique approach to working with young people in violence-affected communities that focuses on developing behavioral skills that empower individuals to make safer decisions, leading them away from violence.

As JT explains, Roca’s Rewire CBT—adapted from techniques used in cognitive behavioral therapy—is a nonclinical approach “designed for frontline staff to help young people learn and practice the lifesaving skills they need to heal from trauma and increasingly make healthier choices.” Designed in partnership with Massachusetts General Hospital, Rewire CBT focuses on seven lifesaving skills that can be practiced on and applied to real-life situations that encourage individuals to identify negative thought patterns and replace them.

JT has more than 20 years of experience leading violence intervention work in Baltimore and providing technical assistance to programs across the country. In 2007, Baltimore became the second city after Chicago to implement a violence interruption program based on the Cure Violence model. JT was tasked by the Baltimore mayor to provide oversight of the new Safe Streets program. In 2012, he became a Safe Streets site director in the Park Heights Renaissance neighborhood before working for the Baltimore City Health Department to support all Safe Streets sites. In 2018, he left to help found the Roca Baltimore program. In addition to his role today with the Roca Impact Institute, JT serves on the Baltimore Mayor’s Cabinet for Boys and Young Men of Color and advises both the Johns Hopkins Innovation Fund for Community Safety and the Accountability Board Selection Committee.

The positions of American Progress, and our policy experts, are independent, and the findings and conclusions presented are those of American Progress alone. A full list of supporters is available here. American Progress would like to acknowledge the many generous supporters who make our work possible.


Nick Wilson

Senior Director, Gun Violence Prevention

Chandler Hall

Senior Policy Analyst


Hai-Lam Phan

Senior Director, Creative

Toni Pandolfo

Video Producer, Production

Andrew Sonntag

Former Events Video Producer

Matthew Gossage

Events Video Producer


Gun Violence Prevention

Our goal is to reduce gun violence by enacting strong gun laws, increasing investment in local solutions, and growing the movement dedicated to this mission.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.