To Reduce Gun Violence, Potential Offenders Offered Support And Cash
Not long ago, the city of Richmond, Calif., was considered one of the most dangerous cities in America. There was a skyrocketing homicide rate fueled by gangs of young men settling personal or territorial disputes.
But today, the city of about 100,000 residents is called a national model for reducing gun violence. Many cities around the country are adopting their unconventional strategy to prevent violence —– which includes paying potential criminals to stay out of trouble.
Joseph McCoy cruises around this tough blue collar town in a small city-owned car, listening for reports of shots fired on the police scanner. He is one of about a half dozen “Neighborhood Change Agents” who keep track, sometimes a couple times a day, of scores of known gun offenders or youths at risk of being shot.
“What I continued to hear was folks believed that there were 17 people responsible for 70 percent of the firearm activity in our city. Seventeen people! We can do something about that,” Boggan says.
Boggan and his team launched the Operation Peacemaker Fellowship. They identified those 17 people and several more and made them an offer. The fellowship will give them counseling, social services, a job and a chance to travel if they develop a “life map,” agree to stay in contact every day and stay out of trouble. Then the fellowship will pay them up to a $1,000 a month for nine months.