For the first time since at least 2002, Boston police, probation officers, ministers, and social workers met yesterday with young gang members, and other high-risk youth to try to scare them straight, reports the Boston Globe. About 40 teenagers who police say either have been fueling some of the city’s recent gun violence or are considered at risk of doing so, were brought to a courthouse for an intervention that pushed two messages: that they would be offered city services, and if they didn’t stop causing violence, police would come down hard, including possible federal charges that could get them shipped to out-of-state prisons. Police will hold similar sessions with other youths from the 10 small areas police are calling ”red zones,” where they say 20 percent of the city’s gun violence occurs.
The meeting marked the relaunch of Operation Ceasefire, a widely emulated program that many credit with helping Boston fight gun violence during the 1990s. Shortly after the program started in 1996, Boston’s homicide rate plunged. The Police Department has faced mounting criticism as violent crime has surged for largely abandoning the strategy, which has since been copied successfully in other cities around the country. Last week, clergy announced a plan to train 1,000 volunteers to saturate the hardest-hit neighborhoods and reach out to youth. Today, Menino is announcing what City Hall bills as a new partnership between police and neighborhood leaders on quality-of-life issues, such as loud noise and late-night parties.