|Connected volunteers celebrated in Holladay Park Friday, Sept. 29. The volunteer group is affiliated with the Eleven:45 |
church -led movement to end youth violence through supporting families and children.
Multnomah County District Attorney's Office has landed a $600,000 grant from the federal Bureau of Justice Assistance, part of the Department of Justice.
The three-year grant will give $45,000 a year to Eleven:45, the church-led youth violence prevention initiative. It also will fund a Deputy District Attorney, to be based in North/Northeast Portland, who will work in the Albina and Killingsworth corridor with the street crimes unit.
Deputy District Attorney Jim Hayden announced the grant at the Gang Violence Task Force meeting on Friday. Hayden, who is based at the Northeast police precinct, says the grant will help Eleven:45, reach out to gang-affected youth and families.
"It is exciting, because we have some momentum going here and the more that we can do now, the better," said Hayden.
Eleven:45 and the District Attorney's office are working together on an initiative that connects youth gang members with pastors. As a condition of probation, first-time gang offenders who have committed minor offenses will be asked to contact the Eleven:45 program.
The initiative started with pastors taking youth to lunch, to offer them support and help connect them to resources in the community, including mentoring. The grant also will help with administrative costs and organizing volunteers.
The Office of Youth Violence Prevention has allocated a separate grant of $4,500 to Connected, said Tom Peavey, policy manager for the office. The funds are intended to help Connected continue its volunteer work. Connected puts a caring adult presence into parks and streets where violence has a been a problem. Since it was started, in April 2010, by former youth violence prevention director John Canda, Connected has been walking in Holladay Park every Friday from 4:30 p.m.
Problems at Holladay Park -- for years a youth violence hotspot -- have dropped sharply since Connected began working there.
Overall, however, gang violence in the City of Portland has increased in 2011. The gang enforcement team has recorded 93 "call outs," as of Sept. 29, most of them described as "shots fired." That's compared to 103 call outs for the whole of 2011.
Police and outreach workers are currently attending high school football games with the goal of preventing fights between rival gangs.
The Department of Community Justice is holding a series of interventions based on the work of David Kennedy, who was one of the founders of Cincinnati's Ceasefire program. The first of several "call-ins" was held Sept. 28.
Selected gang members are called in to a meeting with law enforcement and community members, where they are confronted with the consequences of illegal behavior, and at the same time are offered help. The mother of a homicide victim also spoke at the event as did a former gang member.
"This really gave a strong message to gang members that violence will not be tolerated, but if they want to get help then we will give it to them," said Erika Pruitt, a manager with the Department of Community Justice.
Other developments in youth and family violence prevention work include:
The Police Activities League begins its fall football program, serving 1,200-1,300 youth in elementary and middle school. Community members are encouraged to support youth by attending games.
The Rosewood Initiative is holding a series of Monday night celebrations starting Oct. 15, at the Rosewood Café, 16126 S.E. Stark. Events will include photography sessions for families, arts, music, crafts, beauty, yoga and dance. Everyone is invited to attend. If you want to share a fun activity, contact Jenny Glass at [email protected]