The Boston Foundation and city officials plan to flood a 1.5-square-mile section of the city with massive crime-fighting resources over the next six years; they want to focus on about 2,000 young criminals who they believe drive more than three-quarters of the city’s violence, reports the Boston Globe. The $26 million effort will dispatch 25 new street workers – or “violence interrupters” – into five neighborhoods to make contact with gang members and try to defuse conflicts.
Unlike street workers hired by the city, these interrupters will not be disqualified if they have a criminal past. Their background, community leaders say, could deepen their understanding of what drives people to crime and give the workers more credibility with young people caught up in violence. “This thing has a lot of ambitions, but it is very sharply focused on achieving sharp reductions in murders, aggravated assaults, and robberies in these communities,” said Paul S. Grogan, president of The Boston Foundation, which is putting $1 million a year of its own money toward the effort. The unusual public-private initiative, known as StreetSafe Boston, will concentrate on 1,400 to 2,200 people between 16 and 24 years old and are former offenders, gang members, actively involved in violent crime, or involved with the Department of Youth Services.