New Beginnings Program (NB) A Violent Crime, Intervention, Reduction & Recovery Initiative
Traditionally, law enforcement has relied on investigation and prosecution to thwart gang-related violence and dismantle them. This process is costly, time consuming, and labor intensive. On the other hand, the DCC’s NB Initiative is relatively inexpensive to employ and can be easily expanded, and/or contracted.
Similar to the game Jenga, NB uses gravity and the gang’s own members to dissolve it via the systematic targeting and removal of its leaders and turning them into contributing members of society.
For nearly three-quarters of a million people living in Michigan’s largest city, violence or the fear of violence is a daily reality. Much of the violence is confined to the surrounding neighborhoods as opposed to the much-celebrated downtown area. Although crime rates for the City of Detroit are disputed, what is undisputed is the amount of violent crime (murder, carjacking, rape, aggravated assault, and their attempts) perceived by the community.
The New Beginnings Process
The New Beginnings process starts with DCC Intelligence Analysts identifying a specific street gang and graphing its members, but more importantly; its leaders. Called “centers of gravity” for this initiative, leaders hold the gang together and like any system, remove the leader(s) and the system begins to dissolve, or collapse.
Once graphed, Analysts look for any outward expressions from the gang’s leadership that would lead a reasonable person to believe the leader (now target) is weary of gang life. Statements could be as obvious as “I quit”, or benign as “I’m sick of this sh*t.” Regardless of the statement, the expression/desire for a different life starts the process. However, before direct contact is made (by Keeping Them Alive http://www.keepingthemalive.org/ outreach workers) additional screening criteria is used to identify optimal candidates, which include:
- Minimal violent acts as reported to law enforcement (criminal exposure)
- Life anchors such as; children, a significant other (girlfriend, boyfriend, sister, brother, etc.)
- Age of the candidate (15-24)
These factors, and more, suggest the likelihood of a successful intervention. Intervention is made by KTA staff either in the hospital for victims of violent crime (gunshots, stabbing, or beating victims), or on the streets by KTA outreach members that have “street creds” (street credibility). The important point here is KTA staff offering a better future for gang leaders; a future free of violence and the fear of incarceration.
Experience has taught us (see: case study) that several contacts may be necessary before the process can truly take hold. However, crucial to the process is meeting the person’s immediate/basic needs; such as; food and/or transportation to FTS functions (wrap around services).
Meeting these basic needs opens a pathway for positive communication and dialogue, which in turn opens the door for social services staff to begin equipping them with the life skills necessary to become contributing members of society.
This process helps eliminate any and all excuses that may exist between the person and a new beginning. The result is one less young minority male dead or imprisoned, and a safer community void of the crimes they would have committed.
For less than it costs to police one instance of murder, the DCC’s New Beginnings Initiative will look to move 10 to 20 gang members out of gang life and dissolve two (2) criminal street gangs while preventing crimes they would otherwise commit, crimes such as; drug dealing, robbery, murder, and its attempt. Moreover, the benefits of rescuing new beginning’s candidate extend far beyond the candidate themselves.
The DCC understands that every New Beginning’s candidate is someone’s son or daughter, and a positive change/new beginning in their life can affect:
- Sons and daughters
- Extended family
- Current gang member
The DCC’s New Beginnings Initiative is more than a concept. It is a proven initiative that changes and saves lives by targeting Detroit’s underserved population and equipping them with skills necessary to become contributing citizens.
 These are usually former gang members, and/or one-time felons