Will San Bernardino Fund Peace: Community-Based Violence Reduction Strategies

Media Advisory:  San Bernardino has longstanding problems with poverty and serious violence. Gun violence has been a serious problem in San Bernardino for more than 30 years. During this period, San Bernardino has averaged 44 homicides a year. Since 1980, the homicide rate in San Bernardino has been three to six times higher than state and national rates. There have been more than 1,500 injury shootings in San Bernardino over the past six years, including both homicide and nonfatal injury shootings. That amounts to a serious shooting in San Bernardino every other day. In the neighborhoods that experience disproportionately high violence, serious shootings are a daily occurrence. The social and economic costs stemming from these shootings are substantial: Direct costs, for investigations, prosecutions, medical care, lost wages, and public assistance, amount to $284 million, conservatively estimated; indirect costs to the local economy are also dramatic; and the city and its residents face this problem with a very lean municipal budget and an unusually high poverty rate.

For over four decades, the City’s homicide rate has averaged almost 45 homicides per year, 2-4 times that of state and national rates. Since 2012, San Bernardino has had the lowest median income of any City in the state of over 50,000. Central to the issue of community need and service gaps is the fact that despite the seriousness of the problem of violence in San Bernardino, there is no adequately funded violence reduction strategy in City and County of San Bernardino.

Since the start of the pandemic, the US has suffered a record spike in gun sales, homicides, shootings, and related traumas. The toll of this violence has fallen most heavily on the same communities most impacted by the pandemic and its economic harms. To truly heal and rebuild, state and local officials can and should dedicate a portion of their American Rescue Plan funds to respond to the ongoing gun violence emergency and build safer, healthier communities for all.

The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) is a $1.9 trillion pandemic-relief bill signed into law by President Biden in March 2021. The bill makes multiple investments in state and local infrastructure, schools, and public health efforts, but Section 9901 of this bill also directs hundreds of billions of dollars in more flexible federal aid and relief directly to states, cities, and counties. The City of San Bernardino is scheduled to receive $74 million dollars and the County is in line to receive $400 Million from the American Rescue Plan Act and we are asking the City & County of San Bernardino to fund community and evidence-based strategies in the amount of $4 million annually. State and local governments will start receiving these American Rescue Plan funds by mid-May and can spend these funds for eligible purposes through the end of 2024. 

Specifically, according to the Federal Register, the Department of the Treasury interim final rule states recipients may use payments from the Fiscal Recovery Funds to facilitate access to resources that improve health outcomes, including services that connect residents with health care resources and public assistance programs and build healthier environments, such as:

·        Funding community health workers to help community members’ access health services and services to address the social determinants of health;

·        Funding public benefits navigators to assist community members with navigating and applying for available Federal, State, and local public benefits or services;

·        Housing services to support healthy living environments and neighborhoods conducive to mental and physical wellness;

·        Remediation of lead paint or other lead hazards to reduce risk of elevated blood lead levels among children; and

·        Evidence-based community violence intervention programs to prevent violence and mitigate the increase in violence during the pandemic.

·        https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2021-05-17/pdf/2021-10283.pdf

Learning from Other Cities’ Success

The City of San Bernardino annual general fund investment in the Violence Intervention Program is $135,000 and has leveraged state dollars and local funding matches to support highly effective violence reduction initiatives utilized in Los Angeles, Oakland, Richmond, Stockton and Sacramento. For instance:

·        Los Angeles $25 Million Annual Investment: The Mayor’s Office of Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD), which is part of a coordinated, citywide strategy to address serious violence. Los Angeles has seen a more than 34% reduction in homicides and a more than 44% reduction in nonfatal shootings since launching GRYD in 2007.[i] A 2015 report by the Urban Institute found that recipients of GRYD violence prevention services reported significant reductions in violent behaviors,[ii] and a March 2017 assessment by researchers at Cal State University, Los Angeles found that GRYD incident response teams—just one of many GRYD programs—had prevented an estimated 185 gang retaliations citywide from 2014-15, resulting in estimated savings of $110.2 million over two years.[iii] In 2018, Los Angeles had its second-lowest number of homicides in more than 50 years.[iv]

·        Oakland $15 Million Annual Investment: Oakland Ceasefire, the city’s primary strategy for addressing serious violence by intervening with the small population of individuals at highest risk of engaging in violent behavior. Since launching the strategy in 2012, Oakland has seen a nearly 50% decline in homicides and a more than 50% drop in non-fatal shootings.[v] Last year, Oakland experienced its lowest number of homicides in almost two decades.[vi] Independent evaluators from Northeastern University credited Oakland Ceasefire with reducing homicides by 31.5%.[vii]

·        Richmond $5 Million Annual Investment: VIP helps fund the Office of Neighborhood Safety (ONS), an innovative city agency dedicated exclusively to the prevention of violence. Richmond has seen an almost 75% reduction in fatal and nonfatal shootings since launching ONS in 2007.[viii] One of its primary strategies, an intensive, long-term mentoring program for high-risk individuals known as the Peacemaker Fellowship, is now being replicated in both Stockton and Sacramento, with support from VIP dollars.

Stockton and Sacramento $3 Million Annual Investment: Stockton and Sacramento are two of the newest recipients of grants from the revamped VIP program and are using funding to pursue strategies similar to those in place in Richmond, Oakland, and Los Angeles. Stockton experienced a 40% reduction in homicides and a 31% decline in nonfatal shootings from2017 to 2018. In Sacramento, homicides are down 7% from 2017 to 2018, and last year, no one under the age of 18 was murdered in the city for the first time in 35 years. 

These cities have demonstrated that targeted investments in programs focused on interrupting cycles of community violence can achieve large and sustained reductions in violence in a short period of time. With stronger investment in these programs, San Bernardino City could sustain and expand these programs to more communities.

Making San Bernardino City a Leader in Supporting Effective Violence Reduction Strategies

Like most U.S. cities, multiple jurisdictions in California have been grappling with increases in violence in recent years. As cities across the state look to implement violence reduction initiatives to protect their communities, VIP needs additional, stable funding to propel, sustain, and evaluate these efforts.

To address this need, Young Visionaries Youth Leadership Academy and HOPE Culture request that City of San Bernardino appropriate $4 million annually for VIP. In total dollars, this would represent the largest investment the City has made in local violence intervention initiatives to date and would make a strong statement about San Bernardino leading role in treating gun violence as a preventable public health and safety issue in the region.

A $4 million annual appropriation would allow the City of San Bernardino to make more sustained and meaningful investments in violence intervention initiatives. Given the huge costs imposed by gun violence in San Bernardino each year, this is a lifesaving investment that is likely to pay for itself many times over.

We look forward to continuing to work with you to increase funding of the City’s gang intervention workforce and community-based public safety efforts, to show the nation what is possible when we make investments in violence prevention a fundamental and essential priority. Thank you for your consideration and we look forward to hearing from you.

Ff4gS1HJNFB5IliDYRrGIOmnAhyA/edit?usp=sharing, accessed, March 25, 2019; Los Angeles Police Department, “Crimes & Initiatives, 2017,” assets.lapdonline.org/assets/pdf/2017-homi-report-final.pdf.

[ii] Meaghan Cahill, et al, “Evaluation of the Los Angeles Gang Reduction and Youth Development Program: Year 4 Evaluation Report,” Urban Institute, 35-37 (Sept. 2015), at urban.org/sites/default/files/publication/77956/2000622-Evaluation-of-the-Los-Angeles-Gang-Reduction-and-Youth-Development-Program-Year-4-Evaluation-Report.pdf.

[iii] P. Jeffrey Brantingham, et al, “GRYD Intervention Incident Response & Gang Crime,” GRYD Research and Evaluation Team, 23 (Mar. 30, 2017), at jj-research.com/docs/IR and Gang Crime_GRYD Symposium 2017.pdf.

[iv] Kareen Wynter, “Crime Is Down in Los Angeles Across Every Major Category, Latest Statistics Show,” KTLA5, January 28, 2019, https://ktla.com/2019/01/28/crime-down-in-l-a-across-every-major-category-for-2018-one-of-the-safest-times-to-live-in-los-angeles-police-chief-says.

[v] Calculated from OPD Annual Crime Reports. Oakland Police Department, City of Oakland, Crime Incident Data Reports: Annual and Quarterly Crime Reports, 2012-2018, https://www.oaklandca.gov/resources/oakland-crime-statistics.

[vi] City of Oakland, “Oakland Records Lowest Homicide Total Since 1999,” January 3, 2019, https://www.oaklandca.gov/news/2019/oakland-records-lowest-homicide-total-since-1999.

Darwin BondGraham, “Study Finds Significant Reduction in Gun Homicides in Oakland Via Ceasefire Strategy,” East Bay Express, August 22, 2018, https://www.eastbayexpress.com/SevenDays/archives/2018/08/22/study-finds-significant-reduction-in-gun-homicides-in-oakland-via-ceasefire-strategy.

[viii] Data from Richmond Police Department. See also, Advance Peace, Our Impact, at advancepeace.org/about/the-solution

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