Holistic Approach to Ending Gang Violence
Cities looking for innovative ways to combat gang violence have a new source of insight and direction by turning to an initiative launched by the Mayor of Fresno, CA. Fresno Mayor Alan Autry recently spearheaded development of the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Initiative (MGPI), which provides best-practice tactics that move beyond suppression.
The MGPI focuses on gang prevention, intervention, rehabilitation, and suppression through targeted objectives. These four components offer key points to reducing the number of gang members in Fresno by providing an environment where gang members and “wannabe” gang members have the opportunity to obtain a variety of services and skills. The initiative includes educational services, job skills, tattoo removal, social skills, and case management to encourage individuals into leaving the gang lifestyle and becoming productive members of the community.
To date, more than 150 individuals have been referred to the program by various members of the community. For those wishing to escape the gang lifestyle, local non-profit organizations are instrumental in offering support services to encourage rehabilitation.
“History has proven that gangs will never be defeated through the hammer approach only,” stated Mayor Autry. “Although a zero tolerance for violent gang activity is necessary and critical in reducing gang activity, unless accompanied by effective prevention and intervention programs, those efforts are doomed to failure.”
The City of Fresno has taken all four components of the $1.1 million program under its jurisdiction. This allows greater effectiveness of those faith-based and social-service organizations partnering with the City.
Along with a dozen other cities, Fresno recently participated in a summit in Oakland, CA, where the topic of gang violence was addressed and discussed in an open forum.
“We in law enforcement know that suppression alone is not the answer to reducing gang activity. You must offer a way out to those who are willing,” said Police Chief Jerry Dyer. “We have seen dozens of gang members, associates, and ‘wannabes’ grateful for the chance to leave the destructive gang lifestyle.”
Abstracted from Market Wire Newsletter, 02/08/07.