Community-Law Enforcement Anticrime Model Hard To Sustain


Soon after Cincinnati started a crime-fighting campaign that enlists clergy, community leaders, and police to quell gang gunplay, it was hailed a success. Now the template for a Pittsburgh program appears to be losing steam, reports the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. After the launch of the Cincinnati campaign, known criminals started asking cops about the crackdown. Others would call police after killings to let them know they had nothing to do with it. Homicides among the group of “corner-hanging, gun-toting criminals” who were targeted dropped dramatically, said Lt. Col. James Whalen, Cincinnati’s patrol bureau commander. “We were looking like heroes for a while. Now, the numbers are creeping back up.”

About 18 months since the program kicked in, Cincinnati’s homicides are outpacing last year’s, and the city has seen “an uptick in gun and violent crime.” Similar initiatives have proved hard to sustain and have faded in other cities that have tried them, raising questions about how long Pittsburgh’s budding program could survive. “Things like this come in, and everyone jumps on the bandwagon,” said the Rev. Sheldon Stoudemire, who does outreach in Pittsburgh neighborhoods. “Two or three months wears off, and it’s back to business as usual.” “The strength of the framework is clearly that it is very effective,” said the program’s architect, David Kennedy of John Jay College of Criminal Justice. The weakness is that it is complicated, and it has a lot of moving parts. It is difficult to sustain.” Long-term success, he said, depends on a “genuine commitment” from law enforcement, social services and community, namely church leaders.


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