Friday, October 16, 2009

Any solutions to gang/crew violence out there?

The first two minutes of NBC4's October 15 Connecting with the Mayor segment concerned neighborhood violence, in particular the Clay Terrace shootings.   Barbara Harrison posed these questions to the mayor, "These are teenagers, can’t something be done about it?" and "What are you going to do about it?"   This last question mirrored a Clay Terrace resident who asked, "What is the city gonna do about it?"

Mayor Fenty responded by saying that these are complex, deep-rooted issues that the police and social service agencies will have to deal with.   And while the long-view is absolutely necessary as Mayor Fenty pointed out when he said the city was working to improve education, the fact is that too few DC government agencies and nonprofits 1) know what to do to intervene in these beefs and 2) have demonstrated experience doing the hard work of gang/crew intervention.   Let's not forget the Chief Lanier and other high ranking officials in MPD have said that they cannot arrest their way out of gang and crew activity and violence.

And in this economic environment, there is little funding dedicated to intervention.   Perhaps the government can cobble together funding but this approach is not possible in the private sector.   Worse, some would argue that having to cobble together funding just goes to show how little we value these individuals and communities.   We don't, for example, do tax credits on a hit or miss basis, implemented now but not later, cut when revenues dry up.   So what is it about this issue that makes this approach acceptable?

Finally, what role do we expect individuals and families to play with violence, drug dealing, criminal behavior, and the like?   And why is the government on the hook for solving this?

If you are interested in following up on this issue with the mayor next week, send an email to Fenty [AT] nbcwashington [DOT] com.

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