On November 27 Reentry Central posted an article about Connecticut’s anti-gun violence reduction initiative, Project Longevity, designed to reduce murders in throughout the state. The official release from Project Longevity stated, “Project Longevity uses a strategy that has shown violence can be reduced dramatically when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. To accomplish this, law enforcement, social service providers and community members are recruited, assembled and trained to engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.”
Engaging with gang members and others involved in violent activities is a key factor if anti-violence projects are to be successful. But how does an organization get these individuals to sit down at the table with members of the community, law enforce agencies, and service providers? The Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, with support from the Office of Community Policing Services (COPS), provides some answers.
Practice Brief: Call-In Preparation and Execution is meant to be used by those professionals already involved in a creating a Group Violence Reduction Strategy (GVRS) but have not yet “called in” gang members to outline their violence reduction project.
The document contains two parts, part one for those have completed their problem analysis, and are building their partnerships and, part two for those have connected with law enforcement agencies, community representatives, and service providers.
The preparation component of this document is divided into steps discussing how to:
Identify members of violent street groups
Determine community supervision status of street group members
Perform criminal history review of all street group members
Identify street groups that should be represented at the call-in
Identify a violent street group for an initial demonstration enforcement action
Identify representatives from each street group to attend the call-in(s)
Bringing social service agencies in to the call-in is crucial. Explaining to gang members that help with employment, housing, medical care and substance abuse or mental health issues can be provided, and encouraging them to take part in the services offered can show that established service agencies are eager to provide help to an often disenfranchised population. In order to do this, the brief’s segment Social Services Call-In Preparation provides suggestions on how to:
Identify social services providers
Educate social services providers on the strategy and gain commitment.
Identify a lead social services provider
Ensure quick response and assessment
Develop and modify a tracking database
Involving community members is also instrumental for the success of the project. The brief suggests:
Identifying a small number of community moral voices
Organizing the community moral voices for the call-in
In order to get the message out to the public, tips on finding a trusted media organization or reporter is offered, as well on advice on how to educate the media representative about call-ins, and on issuing a press release.
Once the all the above components have been put in place, strategies for designing the call-in are discussed:
Select speakers to deliver the core messages of the call-in
Select the location and setup of the call-in.
Notify street group members
Prepare and rehearse
Sample talking points for law enforcement, service providers and community representatives are provided. The brief concludes with segments on executing the call in, tips for success and following through.