A Massachusetts effort to apply best practices in targeting gang violence has formed some unlikely partnerships, such as Latino residents patrolling the streets with police officers in a Springfield neighborhood, persuading at-risk kids to get involved in positive activities.
Yet every community adapts the Comprehensive Gang Model in a unique way, and Suffolk University will give voice to stories from the front lines in the panel discussion Confronting Gang Violence: Lessons from Massachusetts and Beyond at 4 p.m. Oct. 2, 2012.
Suffolk Professors Erika Gebo and Brenda J. Bond, co-editors of Looking Beyond Suppression: Community Strategies to Reduce Gang Violence, will moderate the session. Bond and Gebo provide research support to the statewide initiative, funded by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, and their book brings together recent narratives from law enforcement, grass-roots agencies, community leaders and others.
The broad community strategy for working on gang issues yields a variety of scenarios as communities address their particular circumstances:
•In New Bedford, outreach workers prevent retaliation in the wake of a shooting by mediating between families and gang rivals at local hospitals where the victims are taken.
•In Boston, women who are important in the lives of youth – usually mothers and grandmothers – are brought into the loop to help prevent gang violence.
•Latino parents and concerned community members in Springfield walk the streets along with police officers, pulling kids into activities that give them an alternative to the lure of gang membership, such as a community-sponsored audio-visual club.
•Sgt. Miguel Lopez, Worcester Police Department gang unit
•Mary Beth Heffernan, Secretary of the Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety and Security, alumna of the Sawyer Business School and the Law School
•Andrea Perry, Boston Boys and Girls Clubs YouthConnect, who was honored recently at the White House as a Champion of Change
•Sen. Michael Rodrigues (D-Westport), chair of the Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities Committee
The panel discussion gathers together the resources of the University’s Center for Crime & Justice Policy Research in the College of Arts and Sciences, the Moakley Center for Public Management in the Sawyer Business School and the Rappaport Center for Law and Public Service in the Law School.
It will take place from 4-5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 2, 2012, in the first-floor function room of Sargent Hall, 120 Tremont St., Boston. A book launch for Looking Beyond Suppression: Community Strategies to Reduce Gang Violence with editors Gebo and Bond will follow at 5:30 p.m.
For live updates, follow @Suffolk_U on Twitter and use the hashtag: #ConfrontViolence.
About the editors
Brenda Bond is an assistant professor in Suffolk University’s Sawyer Business School, Institute for Public Service. She works with police leaders across the nation on a variety of policy initiatives and is the co-author of a chapter in the book that describes the problems of tackling retaliatory violence in Lowell.
Erika Gebo is an associate professor of Sociology and research associate with the Center for Crime & Justice Policy Research at Suffolk University. She is co-author of a chapter in the book that describes an assessment tool for identifying Springfield youth on the continuum from those at risk for joining gangs and those who are hard-core members.