Community Safety Committee
The purpose of the Community Safety Committee is to engage LARRP’s network to address both the upstream drivers and downstream consequences of community violence.
We define community violence as inclusive of crime, gang violence, domestic violence, and systemic violence and racism (for example, policies that perpetuate the marginalization of social, racial, or economic groups).
We Are Not Okay
January 30, 2023, Across America and nearly every day this month there has been gun violence resulting in injury or death. Take a pause and think about it: as I write, 74 people have lost their lives, 169 people have been injured, and countless wives, fathers, and daughters in Utah, California, Colorado and 19 other states have had their lives shattered by the scourge of gun violence. I dare say that by the time this LARRP newsletter is published, these numbers will have grown.
The recent incidents in Half Moon Bay and Monterey Park underscore the intersection of mental health, access to high caliber guns, and community safety. The psychological pain that leads someone to cause mass casualties is incomprehensible. The trauma left in the wake of these incidents is almost unfathomable. And the continued impotence of policymakers to implement rational gun policies, meet the deep mental health needs in our communities, and prioritize collective physical and psychological safety over a party agenda is frustrating. Once again, our politicians fall back on catastrophic, reactionary rhetoric over real political and social change.
Here we go again.
We are not okay!
Last year, LARRP launched a Community Safety Committee that is focused on these very issues, with the premise that a healthy reentry ecosystem must include a focus on community violence intervention and prevention. The voices of survivors, perpetrators, law enforcement, local government, and you, the community, must be heard, engaged, and elevated. The work in 2022 was focused on listening, learning, and understanding. In this new year, the work transitions to action: the Committee will convene and establish an executable agenda focused on creating space for healing, advocating for policy change, and building the capacity of community-based public safety organizations that are deep in the work. The ultimate goal is to revive and restore the community’s trust.
This work will require dedication, fortitude, and a deep level of hope, but our LARRP community has demonstrated unshakeable resilience many times over.
We are not okay. LET’S GO!!!
Elder Joe Paul, V.P. Network Partnership and Government Relations
Report from the LARRP Community Safety Committee
October 1, 2022, This month we continue to do our part in addressing the heartbreak of gun violence in our communities. During September LARRP joined forces with Centinela Youth Services, faith leaders and other youth service providers to launch the Community Healing Collaboration – Eastside, a Cal VIP-funded program seeks to equip trusted community leaders and credible messengers with training on best-practices in violence reduction and structures that support community and family healing. LARRP also joined forces with Loyola Marymount University to support Community Safety at Crenshaw High School, a semester-long project which seeks to learn and strategize practical and youth-led ways of addressing community-based violence in order to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline at Crenshaw High School
Community Healing Collaborative. LARRP has joined forces with Centinela Youth Services, 2nd Call Gang Intervention, and the Experience Christian Ministries to implement our Community Healing Collaboration – Eastside. This Cal VIP-funded program seeks to equip trusted community leaders and credible messengers with training on best-practices in violence reduction and structures that support community and family healing; gather data to demonstrate impact; and, create structures to attract appropriate public investment in effective community- and faith-led solutions to violence reduction.
The Community Healing Collaborative uses best practice methods of street outreach based on the CURE Violence model. In this model, young people ages 15-19 who are at highest risk for perpetrating violence and/or being victims of violence and their families are engaged and supported with:
- Consistent contact by credible messengers
- Social service navigation supports and referrals
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy supports
- Intergenerational mentoring
- Employment opportunities
Faith leaders are engaged in partnership with street intervention experts, social service and mental health providers, and restorative justice experts to create intergenerational healing, build community collective efficacy, and demonstrate a model that can be replicated across adjacent neighborhoods. The ultimate goal is to reduce shootings, homicides, and aggravated assaults with the overall intention of breaking generational cycles of violence, trauma, incarceration and re-victimization.
Each partner will contribute their own unique constellation of experiences (lived and professional), expertise, resources, and “license to operate” in the target area of South Los Angeles known as the “East Side.” The initial focus area includes the neighborhoods of South Park, Florence-Firestone and Avalon Gardens – the catchment areas for LAPD Newton division, a portion of LAPD 77th division and unincorporated Florence-Firestone patrolled by LA County Sheriff’s Century station.
LARRP’s role will be to coordinate with the reentry services providers as well as build on the experiences and voices of those who have historically been a part of the problem to serve as credible messengers and leaders that add real value to the life-saving work of interrupting community violence.
Community Safety at Crenshaw High School. LARRP has commissioned a community-based safety project at Crenshaw High School in partnership with Loyola Marymount University. The goals are to:
- Engage students and faculty in order to discern how exposure to violence is impacting youth at Crenshaw High School.
- To recommend to decision makers how resources can be allocated to prevent violence and respond to students’ needs.
- To understand needs as defined by students.
- To build students’ sense of agency so that they can effect change in their own lives and communities. Ultimately, we seek to have students participate in decisions that impact them – a process that, historically, is done without them.
This semester-long project seeks to learn and strategize practical ways of addressing community-based violence in order to add another layer to prevent the school-to-prison pipeline.
LARRP thanks Crenshaw HS Vice Principal Danielle Paul, the faculty of Crenshaw HS, and Drs. Cheryl Grills and Deanna Cooks of Loyola Marymount University. These incredible women have worked tirelessly to bring this project to fruition.
California Public Safety. Joe Paul will be participating in a California Public Safety convening hosted by Assembly Member Reggie Jones-Sawyer. The meeting, titled “Exploring Solutions to Address Urban Violence”, will be held on 9/28/22 and is focused on identifying and building out best practices in mitigating the upstream drivers of community violence. I look forward to reporting on the discussion!
News and Events
How Sacramento’s mass shooting killed the myth of ‘tough-on-crime’ prosecutors
The Philadelphia Enquirer, by Will Bunch, Apr 7, 2022
A mass killing on the turf of an outspoken "tough-on-crime" DA shatters the myth that progressive prosecutors are the cause of rising homicides.
Justice Highlights Within LA County’s First Proposed 2022-23 Budget
Witness LA, April 27, 2022, by Taylor Walker
The Red State Murder Problem REPORT
The Third Way, March 15, 2022 by Kylie Murdock and Jim Kessler
The rate of murders in the US has gone up at an alarming rate. But, despite a media narrative to the contrary, this is a problem that afflicts Republican-run cities and states as much or more than the Democratic bastions.
A Harvest of Peace
The work of the Community Safety Committee can be described using an agricultural analogy. The aim is to:
- SEED change by identifying drivers of violence;
- NURTURE the work by inclusively engaging a broad and diverse group of stakeholders in a balanced and democratic conversation about approaches to addressing violence;
- HARVEST the fruit of the work by defining an approach to systems change that can be implemented, evaluated, and shared
While all violence is deleterious to individual and community health, we specifically call out the prevalence of gun and gang violence as a particular concern in LA County and across the nation. Gang violence and gun violence are often intertwined, and have a pervasive generational impact on individuals, families, and communities.
Each year, approximately 100,000 Americans are injured with a firearm, with over 17,000 of these individuals being children 0-18 years. Thirty-eight thousand of these individuals die as a result of their firearm injuries. However, these statistics do not reflect the broader spectrum of gun violence experiences and exposure: witnessing gunfire, hearing gunshots, and losing a friend or family member to gun-related injuries or death are traumatic experiences that have particularly deep psychological, neurological, and developmental impacts on children. Briefly, gun violence that is directly and indirectly experienced is a significant Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) and conspicuous social determinant of health that can have lifelong impacts.
Over the last decade, LARRP’s network has contributed to significant achievements in criminal justice reform. For the next decade, we recognize the need to move from “reentry” to a more holistic healthy community approach that addresses both the upstream drivers of violence and downstream effects.
Without an investment in prevention, reentry and criminal justice work will remain in a reactive space that is vulnerable to the current political climate. In a world of pendulum politics that swing between extreme positions (such as “tough on crime” or “defund the police”), the only sustainable and permanent solution is a balanced, informed, and long-term approach to violence prevention. LARRP seeks to sit on the leading edge of this space.
Specifically, the CSC seeks to complement and partner with LA County’s Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) and others to:
- Convene and engage stakeholders at multiple levels (including community members, system leaders, service providers, victims, gang members, etc.) to identify areas in need of advocacy and capacity building in LA County. The CSC will serve as an aggregator of information and as an intermediary between community and systems, providing information to decision makers and funders. This role is consistent with LARRP’s mission to represent the needs of LA’s reentry service community and to hold systems accountable to effective solutions for community problems such as violence.
- Build cohesive leadership and partnerships across sectors to shape and drive an agenda that specifically addresses the problems of pervasive gang and gun violence in Los Angeles County’s marginalized and underrepresented communities (such as South LA). From the Urban Peace Institute September 2021 Report on “A Time for Expansion in LA County’s Community-Based Service Infrastructure”:
“…underserved communities have often existed at the intersections of community violence and systems neglect…underserved communities are not just communities that lack public programs and resources. They are also marginalized communities that are unseen, inaccessible, and forgotten. These communities have navigated violence, law enforcement violence, systemic racism, and poverty, often solely relying on the assistance and support of local community-based organizations and leaders.”
- Work directly with a broad array of stakeholders to frame, understand, and address various aspects of violence, including prevention and impacts on individuals, families, communities, health, schools, and other systems.
- Stakeholders will be diverse and include (among others): former gang members, law enforcement, former “lifers”, victims, gang interventionists, service organizations, community groups, advocacy groups, the faith-based community, and elected/politicians.
When Is Time Done?
By Pastor Joe Paul,
V.P. of Network Partnerships and Government Relations, The Los Angeles Regional Reentry Partnership
August 1, 2022
Thirty-five years ago, I committed a crime: I was involved in the murder of a young black man – a casualty of the crack epidemic. I too, as a young black man, was a victim of this era: easy money, ambition, and a lack of direction was a dangerous combination, especially in 1980s South Los Angeles...
Reflections from Joe Paul, LARRP Vice President of Network Partnerships & Government Relations, April 30,2022
In 2020, the death of George Floyd launched an unprecedented demand for policy reforms and transparency in law enforcement. Communities, citizens, and activists united in a strategic and sustained call to divert law enforcement funding toward community prevention and intervention programs.
We marched for George Floyd, but can we stand for the hundreds of neighbors who are dying each day from unnecessary gun violence? Can we bring the same energy that mobilized calls for police reform to the communities where folks are dying at unprecedented rates?
At the same time, gun violence and homicides have spiked in LA County: between 2019 and 2021 This pattern is a recipe for disaster as we head toward the summer months which typically witness spikes in gun violence. These crimes disproportionately impact the Black community: while African-Americans make up 14% of the population, they represent more than half of the victims of gun violence (FBI). In fact, gun violence is the leading cause of death for Black males ages 15-34 years (Centers for Disease Control).
As part of our launch of the Community Safety Committee, LARRP spent April at events that were focused on calls for accountability and transparency to the issue of gun violence:
Until All Of Us Are Safe, None Of Us Are Safe
Healing in Action
Last fall, LARRP announced the launch of its first Community Safety Committee. This committee is designed to understand both the upstream drivers and downstream consequence of violence in all of its forms. Its formation stemmed from a growing recognition that if we do not address the origins of criminality and violence, we run the risk of losing gains in criminal justice reform in favor of a return to “tough on crime” policies.
In fact, true criminal justice reform begins before a crime has ever been committed. And listening to those closest to violence is the first step of understanding how to prevent community violence.
It is in that spirit that on Wednesday the 23rd, I gathered in a church hall on the “eastside” of south L.A., with former and current gang members. Convened by Pastor Anthony “Shep” Crawford of The Experience Christian Ministries, the group meets regularly under the banner of “United We Stand Up.” This group is working to remember the 30-year anniversary of the 92 Civil Unrest, and to process their life histories and, more importantly, how to harness their hard-earned wisdom to heal themselves and their community.