Attorney General Lockyer Releases New Violence Prevention Publication

First Edition Showcases Stockton Effort to Reduce Gang Homicides

Monday, February 10, 2003
Contact: (415) 703-5837, agpressoffice@doj.ca.gov

(SACRAMENTO) – Attorney General Bill Lockyer today released a new community-oriented publication devoted to preventing violence.

"At the Local Level: Perspectives on Violence Prevention" will be published several times a year with articles on issues of interest to local communities that reflect both the law enforcement and public health perspectives on preventing violence. It is co-sponsored by Health and Human Services Agency Secretary Grantland Johnson.

"Law enforcement has always placed an emphasis on aggressive enforcement to fight violent crime," Lockyer said. "But we have learned that public safety can be greatly increased when we combine prevention strategies with the arrest, prosecution and imprisonment of those responsible for violence. Successfully protecting Californians from crime will depend upon our ability to direct resources to prevention efforts that involve law enforcement, social services, community leaders, faith-based organizations, educators and the health community."

The first issue describes a strategy that the City of Stockton has used since 1997 that has reduced gang-related youth homicide by more than 75 percent. "Ending Gang Homicide: Deterrence Can Work" describes Stockton's adaptation of Boston's successful anti-gang violence program, called "Ceasefire."

Under the program, Stockton's police department reassigned several patrol officers to a new unit focused exclusively on gangs. The Gang Street Enforcement Team, or GSET, expanded to include officers from other law enforcement agencies, who met directly with leaders and high-risk youth associated with the area's 150 street gangs. The message from the "Peacekeepers" was simple: Any illegal behavior by a gang or gang member would be immediately punished with any available legal tool. The message was balanced with offers for services provided by gang outreach workers, social services agencies and faith-based organizations, giving gang members a choice.

The article was written by Stewart Wakeling, the Juvenile Justice System Coordinator for San Joaquin County. Wakeling can be reached at (209) 468-9563 or at swakeling@co.san-joaquin.ca.us. The article is available on the Attorney General's Crime and Violence Prevention Center website, at www.safestate.org.

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