Boston program wins national award
Operation Cease Fire, a program that has reduced gang-related violence and eliminated teenage deaths by handguns in Boston, was one of 10 programs that recently won an Innovations in American Government Award, sponsored by the Ford Foundation, New York. A total of $100,000 in grants was awarded to the programs with the best demonstrated results.
The program was started after 155 Boston youths were killed by guns or knives between 1990 and 1994. Since Operation Cease Fire began in 1995, only one juvenile has been killed with a gun. Gang members, community members and the police meet regularly to discuss the stiff penalties for not complying with the program.
As part of the program, police collaborate with the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms using weapons tracing technology to find owners of confiscated handguns. The program also combines its efforts with those of probation officers and prosecutors to educate youths with criminal records about the legal consequences of continued violence, as well as to coordinate the punishment of these youths.
“This recognition from the Innovations program is a singular honor to all the dedicated people – from police officers to citizens to clergy and members of other criminal justice institutions – who are working so hard to save young lives in Boston,” Evans says. “Equally important, Innovations is a premier vehicle for replicating this promising initiative around the country.”
The Ford Foundation grant will enable the Boston Police Department to share the lessons learned from this initiative with other law enforcement agencies. In fact, more than 85 percent of Innovations winners have seen their programs adapted in other jurisdictions. Interested parties may access the program’s web site at www.ksg.harvard.edu/innovations or call (617) 495-0557.