Richmond Gun Violence Intervention
What are the goals of the program?
In 2006, the City of Richmond, California experienced more than 40 homicides. The national average for a city the size of Richmond (approximately 100,000 people) is six. In the aftermath, the city established the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) to actively reach out to those most likely to be involved in gun violence, those most resistant to change, and chronically unresponsive to help. The program works with these youth and adults to avoid future acts of violence, to leave gang life behind, to achieve high-value goals as part of a "life map" and to be financially rewarded for their achievements.
Essential to the work of ONS are the Neighborhood Change Agents who carry out the street and school outreach, violence interruption, public education, conflict resolution and retaliation prevention, and general adult mentorship activities. Many of the ONS change agents are ex-felons now dedicated to leveraging their knowledge of the city to diffuse tensions, meet with individuals who are known to turn to violence, negotiate truces, change behaviors, broker social services, and reduce homicides.
How does the program work?
The city's change agents identify the individuals most at-risk for gun violence. They are recruited to participate in an 18-month Fellowship. The program provides financial incentives for participation and positive behaviors as a gateway to self-motivation. Each Fellow has a mentor and develops a Life Map which identifies major benchmarks such as securing a high school diploma or GED, maintaining paid employment, acquiring a driving license, enrolling in classes to improve parenting skills, or management of personal finances. Stipends of up to $1,000.00 per month may be paid for the achievement of Life Map benchmarks.
Between 2006 and 2014, with the implementation of the ONS programs, homicides in Richmond have decreased by 70 percent from more than 40 to just 15. (A record high of 47 homicides did occur in 2009.) By the end of 2014, 68 individuals had passed through the Fellowship program and 65 were still alive. Eleven have been arrested for gun violence since 2010.
How if the program funded?
Initially funded at $600,000 the program has grown to have a budget of $1.5 million. According to ONS quarterly reports, all stipends, supportive services and associated costs paid as part of the violence prevention fellowships come from private and grant sources.
Cities United, a collective of mayors from across the nation who have joined a movement to stop the unprecedented and devastating loss of human life happening in cities throughout America