Please note: The following information is meant to share with you the details of The Crisis Intervention Network, a highly successful comprehensive gang program that dramatically decreased gang fatalities in Philadelphia for over a decade. If you want the magazine article, "Crisis Strategy Works: 12 Years Prove It," or a copy of the advertisement that led to this program, email Tom Woodward)
As noted in the magazine article, “Crisis Strategy Works: 12 Years Prove It,” deaths from gang violence dropped 66% in the first year of this program and then averaged slightly over 2% in the following eleven years of the program.
The Crisis Intervention Network was also adopted by city of Los Angeles on a limited basis in the 1990s. However, the pilot program proved to be too successful, because when fatalities dropped significantly within a twelve month period, the City of Los Angeles in its wisdom withdrew further funding -- and since root causes of gang violence (joblessness, lack of parental discipline, etc.) had not been dealt with, there were few lasting effects from the pilot program..
My own involvement with the problem of gang violence began when I created the ad, “Hail, hail, the gang’s been here. What the heck do we care?” and received a massive response from the ad. After working with community people for seven years, Bennie Swans, Larry Rawls, and I created the Crisis Intervention Network. The results of our success and a breakdown of the components of the network are enclosed along with a copy of the initial advertisement and an article that describes the initial and on-going success in greatly reducing the incidence of gang violence.
Ron Bloomberg - Ronbloom2@aol.com - Tom Woodward - TBWSalinas@aol.com
REDUCING GANG VIOLENCE:
THE CRISIS INTEVENTION NETWORK
This program of Crises Teams was successful in reducing gang violence significantly in Philadelphia. After one year of the crises teams hitting the streets, gang fatalities amazingly were cut by over 60%. That figure quickly fell to just over 2% and remained so for over a decade.
CRISIS TEAMS: The heart of The Crisis Intervention Network is a number of six member gang worker teams, living in the area they work, equipped with cars and cell phones, and on call 24/7. These teams are given three months of skilled mediation training before hitting the streets. The key component of these Crises Teams is accountability built in from top to bottom. The tasks of the Crises Teams are:
MEDIATION: This is the primary component of the program. The teams are not involved in apprehension: once a violent act has been committed, that is strictly police business;
FORMING AND MAINTAINING GANG COUNCILS: Treaties are established and rigorously scheduled meetings are held to iron out disputes that arise. Crises Teams are given the responsibility to see that gang leaders show up for these meetings and that treaties do not fall apart;
COMMUNICATION: Police gang units, schools, community leaders, neighborhood groups, parents’ councils, churches and synagogues, and recreation centers all have roles to play in the prevention of gang violence. They all should be on the same page: it is the job of the Crises Teams to see that they are;
ANTICIPATING VIOLENCE, the key to preventing violence. Once a gang member gets in his car to shoot a rival gang member, it is too late. Keeping the flow of information going so Crises Team members can quickly mediate something that went down at school or in the streets is imperative;
WORKING WITH THE PROBATION DEPARTMENT: This is a huge factor in whether violence escalates or diminishes. At any given time a number of gang members are released from prison and then return to their neighborhoods. These “older heads” can have enormous clout as to which direction a gang will take. The Probation Department has some sway over these individuals and in many cases the Crises Teams working with parole officers can help turn those being released from prison into a positive factor.
The selection of the Crisis Team members has to be vigorous. Applicants must have respect in the community in which they work. They must have street smart intelligence, organizational skills, and be dedicated to keeping kids alive.
Innovation is a further key to the success of the program. Creative approaches are needed in dealing with an irrational problem. Certainly a wider view of the world should be given to gang members and there is a great deal of talent in the city that is rarely called upon to help in these situations – universities, the entertainment and business communities, and professional sports teams can be called upon to contribute ideas, strategies and resources.