South Bend anti-violence commission member talks strategy - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

South Bend anti-violence commission member talks strategy


"We need to have it stopped, it needs to be stopped," said Tracy Lazo Thursday night at a vigil for her relative, two-year-old John Swoveland Jr.  He was killed by a stray bullet just the day before.

In recent weeks it's been victim after victim due to violence in the community.  Because of that we keep hearing officials and neighbors say "the violence has to stop."  So we've been wondering how do they plan to do that?  The South Bend Anti-Violence Commission was started by Mayor Buttigieg to tackle the issue.

Friday one of their members, St. Joseph County Prosecutor Mike Dvorak, said the commission is working to implement a new group violence intervention strategy.  "It's a scientific strategy,"  Dvorak said.  "Part of what we've been doing is accumulating data on offenders and who is connected to whom."

Dvorak said the strategy targets gangs or violent groups in our community.  He said within any such group there is only a small percentage of people that actually pull the trigger.  This new strategy goes after the entire group.  "You apply pressure on them as a consequence.  Part of that is advising everybody in that crew if the shooting doesn't stop, everybody's gonna get violated on the least little thing," said Dvorak.

For example, the strategy will target a group known to be violent, then go after the members of that group even on non-violent offenses like late child support payments or even littering.

The goal is to get their attention and try to convince them to turn their life around.   Another part of the strategy will offer services to make that happen.   "A way out of the bad behavior they're engaged in, whether it's addiction services, job opportunities, those sorts of things," said Dvorak.

Another part of this strategy, that hasn't been implemented yet, is something called "call-ins."  That's when law enforcement and community members like pastors will bring in members of these violent groups and have direct talks with them.

A professor out of New York came up with the strategy.  It's being used in places like Chicago and Boston and the experts say it's been successful.              

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