Can Seattle Cut Gang Violence By 50 Percent?


Seattle’s $8 million Youth Violence Prevention Initiative aims to cut youth and gang violence by 50 percent. A gang expert with the U.S. Department of Justice cautions against evaluating the initiative’s success solely by whether it meets that “aggressive” goal, reports Seattle Phelan Wyrick of the U.S. Office of Justice Programs met yesterday with members of the City Council and later spoke at a gang violence symposium.

Wyrick said he was impressed with the leadership in Seattle’s initiative, and that it takes the collaborative approach between police and social services that has been most effective elsewhere. There were 17 gang-related deaths in King County last year. About 800 at-risk youth are targeted in the city’s effort, which was announced by Mayor Greg Nickels last year. The program aims to reduce youth and gang violence through better enforcement and prevention, including help to young offenders re-entering society, street outreach, counseling, job training, and extended hours of activity at local community centers.

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