Study: Controversial crime-prevention program paying off in Richmond

Traffic stop renews tensions between Richmond police and Office of Neighborhood Safety

The Richmond crime-prevention program that pays some of the city’s most violence-prone young men to stay out of trouble received a positive review in a newly-published study by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD).

On Monday, the nonprofit released its process review (see full report here) of Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS) programs including Operation Peacemaker Fellowship, which offers monthly stipends to young residents ranging from $300 to $1,000 and also connects them to education and employment services and other constructive opportunities (in the photo above, fellows were taken on a trip to Mexico.).

NCCD found that the program is working to prevent crime as well as provide for better lives for the young men who have participated.

“While a number of factors including policy changes, policing efforts, an improving economic climate, and an overall decline in crime may have helped to facilitate this [crime reduction], many individuals interviewed for this evaluation cite the work of the ONS, which began in late 2007, as a strong contributing factor in a collaborative effort to decrease violence in Richmond,” the report stated.

The fellowship, which received its first participant in 2010, has been largely credited for the vast reduction in Richmond homicides, which went from 47 in 2009 to a four-decades-low of 11 last year. Additionally, NCCD noted that 94-percent of participants in the program remain alive, while 79-percent have not been arrested or charged for gun-related offenses. Last year, there were 68 fellows in the 18-month-long program.

ons.7-27The strategy has been getting heaps of media attention during the last year, with some U.S. cities considering replicating the program to battle rising crime. The program is led by DeVonne Boggan, who through data and street intelligence learned that about 17 people were responsible for 70-percent of Richmond’s gun violence in 2009. Earlier this month, the New York Times published an opinion piece by Boggan that’s worth reading.

The NCCD’s evaluation was funded by The California Wellness Foundation and the City of Richmond and led by principal investigator Dr. Angie Wolf NCCD’s director of justice strategies.