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Interagency collaboration: a process evaluation of a Bakersfield gang violence prevention model
The street gang problem in Kern County most certainly affects all residents; making criminal street gang activity a public problem. In Bakersfield, the statistics show that gang related gun violence is burdening society with devastating social and financial costs. Law enforcement agencies are ill equipped to handle the problem of gang related gun violence by themselves. A review of relevant literature on strategies to reduce gang related gun violence has revealed that interagency collaborations can be a valuable alternative to traditional law enforcement tactics. These collaborations can be particularly successful when law enforcement agencies collaborate with social services, public health officials, clergy members, and community outreach organizations. One of the most successful of these collaborations was Operation Ceasefire in Boston, Massachusetts. This program served as a model to several other agencies wanting to address gang related gun violence with a modern approach. In 2010 the Bakersfield Police Department spearheaded an effort to create the Bakersfield Safe Streets Partnership (BSSP), which was modeled from Operation Ceasefire. The BSSP included law enforcement agencies from local, state, and federal agencies, as well as representatives from the Kern County Superintendent of Schools, nonprofit community outreach workers, religious organizations, social service agencies, and other volunteers. Part of the model of the BSSP was to institute “call-in” meetings where carefully selected gang members found to be at-risk for gun violence were invited to attend. Part of the meeting was a confrontation from criminal justice representatives who informed these gang members of consequences of participating in gang-related gun violence. The other part of the meeting was more interactive and allowed the “call-in” participant gang members to meet with social service providers and non-profit groups for an assessment of their personal needs (e.g. job skills training, obtaining a driver’s license, tattoo removal). In 2013, several students from California State University, Bakersfield conducted a program evaluation of the BSSP. Their focus was on the “call-in” processes and their function as a major component for the BSSP. The results of the evaluation revealed several inefficiencies with the process and inconsistencies with the model as it was originally planned. Because the BSSP grant funded period is now over, the collaborative program has become volunteer-based. The evaluation of the BSSP has resulted in the development of several proposals which included dissolving the BSSP completely; modifying the BSSP into a nonprofit entity; modifying the BSSP model to mobilize the collaborative organizations; include Juvenile Facilities into the BSSP “call-in” model, and to further modify the BSSP follow-up procedures. Two detailed recommendations were presented which were directed at the Bakersfield Police Department. Those recommendations were to address inefficiencies in BSSP “call-in” processes at Bakersfield Police Department levels, and secondly, to make major changes to the entire BSSP model and mobilize / expand the accessibility of the program.
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