Sunday, May 6, 2012

Leadership on combating Gang Violence

Massachusetts State Troopers Luis Rodriguez, left, and Stephen Gregorczyk stopping a suspect in the Brightwood neighborhood of Springfield, Mass.  By
An interesting NY Times article Green Berets returning from Iraq to their state police jobs and realizing that the tactics used to combat insurgents there would work with gangs in Massachusetts. Before they tried their new tactics, Gang members and drug dealers cruised the streets on motor scooters carrying SKS semiautomatic rifles in broad daylight. Gunfire erupted almost daily.

The tactics that work included involving the community. These meetings, advertised by word of mouth, have grown steadily in attendance, drawing residents, community leaders, landlords, representatives of city agencies and nonprofit organizations, and local politicians.
Gary Linsky, the owner of a paving company, started attending after Trooper Cutone stopped him for a traffic violation and instead of issuing a ticket, persuaded him to participate. Karen Pohlman, a nurse practitioner at the nearby Baystate Brightwood Health Center, heard someone mention the meetings and decided to attend.

The gatherings are part networking session, part pep rally and part social event. At a recent meeting, Trooper Cutone, standing ramrod straight at the front of the room in his blue uniform and black lace-up boots, reminded the group of its mission to “promote a safe and secure environment” and “reduce gang activity and violence.”
“You are the greatest resource,” he said.

New ideas offered at the meetings are quickly translated into action: a “walking school bus” program, proposed by Ms. Pohlman, has flourished, with teachers chaperoning students as they walk to school each morning. A photo array in the entrance of 101 Lowell displaying the names and faces of people barred from trespassing on the property was the brainchild of a resident fed up with the drug trade operating there.

This is another great example of people taking a leadership position along with some intiative to solve a big problem.  What do you think?

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