A Syracuse gang prevention program is getting some significant financial backing from the state – hoping to make a difference where law enforcement can’t.
Department of Criminal Justice Services Deputy Director Mike Green explains the program will use special outreach workers familiar with neighborhoods and their on-going disputes.
“The violence interrupters learn about the dispute, intervene with the parties to the dispute, try and de-escalate the dispute, and keep the dispute from turning into a shooting. The other common scenario is there’s been a shooting, say a dispute between two groups. Unfortunately in many instances we see those shootings turn into retaliation, and then retaliation again, and then retaliation again.”
Green says workers in those communities might intervene before bullets fly back and forth. The $400,000 grant will go to the Syracuse Model Neighborhood Facility to replicate a program used in Chicago called Cure Violence.
“The idea is that this is not the police, this is not law enforcement. Law enforcement obviously has a huge role to play but there are limitations and sometimes they don’t have the ability on the ground level to get between some of these parties whereas the violence interrupters would.”
Green says the agency will hire people locally …some who might have a history in gangs or in the target areas. The state grant comes out of a initiative to invest in neighborhood programs that show promise …and could be renewed. It should be running by summer.