California Cities Gather to Help Fight Gang Violence

Teams from 13 California cities are meeting today in Oakland, California, at the California Cities Gang Prevention Network meeting to identify and share successful gang prevention policies and practices. Sponsored by the National League of Cities (NLC) and the Oakland-based National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD), the two-day meeting will focus on building strategies that interweave prevention, intervention, enforcement, and a community’s “moral voice” as an alternative to prison-only solutions.

Participating cities include: Fresno, Los Angeles, Oakland, Oxnard, Richmond, Sacramento, Salinas, San Bernardino, San Diego, San Francisco, San Jose, Santa Rosa, and Stockton. The network is funded by the California Wellness Foundation, the California Endowment, the East Bay Community Foundation, and the Richmond Children’s Foundation, with additional support from the California Office of the Attorney General and the City of Oakland.

Led by the mayors’ offices and law enforcement officials, each city is represented by a team of five to eight people that will represent key stakeholders such as probation and public health offices, schools, community- based organizations, and the faith community. The teams will work together to develop or refine comprehensive, locally appropriate action plans to address gang violence. NLC’s Institute for Youth, Education, and Families (YEF) and NCCD will promote collaboration between cities and information sharing that will ultimately lead to the implementation of successful anti-gang strategies, help frame state-level policies that support local efforts, and provide crucial information on successful anti-gang practices that cities across the country can use.

Recent research shows that gangs are responsible for a disproportionate amount of the unacceptable levels of violence and criminal behavior now occurring in cities across the country. Violent crime rose 3.7 percent nationally and 4.1 percent in California in the first six months of 2006 compared with the same time period in 2005. According to the 2005 National Gang Threat Assessment, gangs were involved in 56 percent of all crimes in the Western region of the country in 2005.

A statewide advisory board will guide the ongoing implementation of this new initiative. Planned activities for the network include:
* Development of a resource bank for added information sharing among cities;
* Publication of bulletins and strategic briefs on lessons learned from collaboration;
* On-site assistance from NLC and NCCD to participating cities in developing and implementing local action plans, and;
* Recommendations for policy changes at the state and federal level.

The National League of Cities is the nation’s oldest and largest organization devoted to strengthening and promoting cities as centers of opportunity, leadership and governance. NLC’s YEF Institute helps municipal officials take action on behalf of the children, youth, and families in their communities.

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