Boston Mayor Thomas M. Menino believes that interactions between mentors and gang members, multiplied across the city, will drive down youth violence and make neighborhoods safer, says the Boston Globe. The city wants to increase the number of street workers from 20 to as many as 30. Their job is to befriend at-risk teenagers, shoot hoops with them, smooth out conflicts, whatever keeps them out of trouble. Under the new Boston Strategic Multi-Agency Task Force program, or B-SMART, described by its coordinator as “community policing on steroids,” the street workers will have more backup, with better coordination among city agencies, social services, and community groups.
Larry Mayes, the mayor’s human services chief, has grant money to hire more youth workers and develop youth programs in one location, and he hopes to raise between $5 million and $10 million in foundation money over the next two to three years to pay for such programming in other areas. Workers are getting intensive training in such areas as conflict mediation, trauma counseling, and CPR, skills that many of them previously lacked.