Friday, October 23, 2009

Gang shootings are driving violence numbers

One theme of MPD Chief Cathy Lanier’s discussion with Bruce DePuyt on the October 22 edition of NewsTalk with Bruce DePuyt was that gang violence is continuing while other kinds of crime and violence is decreasing.   If the city could get a handle on this bad activity, we could get below 100 homicides a year.   Chief Lanier attributed virtually all of the shootings and other violence of late to gangs.   We know from those who work on the streets that beefs that may have once simmered are now erupting with shootings and retaliations.

The chief's solution to the problem of gang violence is for witnesses to call and report what they know, confidentially of course.   Asked about community organization involvement with gangs (gang intervention), the chief replied that numerous organizations are working on the crew and gang issue and that all others have to do is just get involved. (minutes 7:45-9:30)

Susie's comments:   Getting involved is not easy as the chief may have suggested, though I don’t blame the chief for not knowing this.   The fact is that successful and effective gang intervention requires training, skill and resources.   It also requires strong connections to others – both government and community resources.   Finally, effective gang interventions are grounded in research and theory.   Researchers, for example, have found that some interventions actually strengthen gang bonds.   This is important to know.

We also know from experience that wanting to help is not enough.   So all due respect to Chief Lanier, not everyone interested is equipped to do the work.

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