Massachusetts state troopers Michael Cutone and Thomas Sarrouf returned to Springfield, Ma., in 2009 after deployments with a Green Beret unit in Iraq and proposed to use counterinsurgency strategies from Iraq against local gangs in the city’s Brightwood area, says the New York Times. Increasingly, law enforcement is concluding that conventional techniques are ineffective in making lasting changes in failing urban neighborhoods where gangs thrive. New approaches are being tried out in many cities, though most are not adapted from a military model.
Cutone said traditional methods — periodic shows of force, like sting operations and raids that temporarily remove gang leaders from the streets — address symptoms, but the problem remains. The core of their approach is a community meeting that draws residents, community leaders, landlords, representatives of city agencies and nonprofit organizations, and local politicians. Many involved in Brightwood sense that the neighborhood has benefited from the approach. Its success has not yet been validated with hard numbers.