By The Editorial Board, San Bernardino County Sun
San Bernardino may soon have a new tool to address violent crime. Earlier this month, the City Council approved a contract with California Partnerships for Safe Communities to implement a program known as Ceasefire, which, among other things, seeks to work with individuals at risk of involvement in violent crime and find productive solutions.
“The program is very heavy on data analysis and its very heavy on making contact with people who are at risk and trying to influence them and help them in their lives such that they change their lifestyle and we avoid having as many murders and crimes as we’ve had,” explained City Manager Mark Scott on March 6. Scott went on to note some funding needs remain to be worked out.
Such efforts have proven helpful in reducing violence in cities across the country, including Oakland and Stockton. The Ceasefire approach works to identify individuals at highest risk of committing violent crimes, building productive relationships with them and focusing enforcement efforts on those who continue to engage in criminal activity.
Commonly, small meetings are held at community centers or churches between identified individuals with community members, law enforcement and outreach workers. In 2012, the Campbell Collaboration, a group of social scientists that seeks to determine evidence-based policies and practices, assessed Ceasefire’s effectiveness, finding evidence of reduced violence and recidivism in nine of 10 cities.
San Bernardino’s pursuit of Ceasefire can largely be credited to the local faith-based community, including Inland Congregations United for Change, which, along with clergy and residents, held marches last year against continued violence in the city and for solutions like Ceasefire.
It’s a much more pragmatic and evidence-based idea compared to the letter drafted last month by Mayor Carey Davis and signed onto by the council essentially begging the Trump administration to enforce federal marijuana laws, with the idea that doing so would reduce crime in the city.
The city’s willingness to give Ceasefire a try is commendable. Of course, it won’t be a panacea, and results are likely to take time before being felt, but it’s worth trying in a city plagued by senseless violence.