ICUC: Ceasefire long term, effective strategy to reduce crime

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Photo/Anthony Victoria: Inland Congregations United for Change (ICUC) organizers demonstrating their support for Prop. 47--passed by California voters in Oct. 2014.

The San Bernardino City Council last week approved a contract to work with California Partnership for Safer Communities (CPSC) to implement a long awaited program to deal with crime and violence.

Proposed by faith based leaders over a year ago, Operation Ceasefire has garnered support from residents who believe San Bernardino’s homicide rate may decrease with improved community and law enforcement relations.

San Bernardino will utilize Measure Z sales tax funding to pay for CPSC’s contract ($175,000 per year) and fund two staff positions ($400,000 a year).

Despite acknowledging the importance of traditional law enforcement practices, Inland Congregations United for Change organizer Sergio Luna believes the methods should not rely solely on heavy policing, but also on “holistic” approaches that focus on helping residents out of the cycle of violence and into educational and employment programs.

“The biggest challenge will be community involvement,” said Inland Congregations United for Change organizer Sergio Luna. “As in the past, there have been decisions made by the Council without community input. We want to make sure there’s transparency.”

CPSC has developed successful community policing programs together with law enforcement, social service providers, and community leaders in Northern California cities to substantially reduce violence.

According to data provided by CPSC, Oakland has reduced homicides and non-fatal injury shootings by almost 40 percent, while Stockton has a 30 percent reduction. Both cities have faced arduous challenges with crime in the last decade.

According to Mayor Carey Davis’ office, the program will begin with a detailed evaluation of the city’s violent crime problem. CPSC will work with the San Bernardino Police Department to identify individuals at-risk, develop an outreach and case management plan, adopt procedural justice initiatives to provide fair enforcement, and clear communication with partnering agencies.

“Public safety remains the No. 1 priority for our community, and I stand by the City’s Police Resources Plan which allocates additional funding for the hiring of new police officers,” reads a statement published by Davis’ office. “Our partnership with California Partnership for Safe [Communities] will provide us another tool to reduce violent crime.”

Luna praised the Mayor’s office and the police department for demonstrating more support of Ceasefire. Nonetheless, he hopes the city adopts the community policing program as a long term strategy.

“It has to be a true commitment in order for it to work,” Luna said. “The expectation should be at least until the Measure Z money runs out. Even after that money runs out, I’m positive the community would support renewing the tax if the program is successful.”

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