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Police launch new program to reduce violent crime

Photo Credit: Adam Herman

PHOTO: Retired Captain Bruce Allison (Right) and Sgt. Brown of the Gang Task Force discuss strategy at the Southeast Community Center
By Chief Dean McKimm
Released/Published: Jun 15, 2009

Gangs are a problem in cities across the country, and Canton is no exception. Gangs are especially dangerous when gun violence is used to settle disputes, gain respect, or commit crimes.  So, when the Canton Police Department became aware of a new program from the U.S. Attorney’s Office that has successfully reduced gang violence in communities nationwide, they jumped at the chance to implement it here locally.

The Community Initiative to Reduce Violence (CIRV) is a new strategy modeled primarily after the Boston Gun Project from the mid-1990s. Through partnerships between multiple local law enforcement agencies and respected leaders in the community, CIRV attempts to deliver a strong message to members of street gangs – the violence must stop!

In order to make sure the program was a success, an experienced project manger was needed to undertake the huge task of organizing all of the necessary agencies that must come together and work as a team.  The Canton Police Department is fortunate to have retired Police Capt. Bruce Allison come back to work for the City in order to fill this important position.  A highly respected retired police commander with strong ties in the community, Capt. Allison is perfectly suited to undertake this new effort on behalf of the Department.

At an intelligence gathering conference held May 27-28 of this year, instructors from the University of Cincinnati Policing Institute began training officers and civilian leaders from the Canton Police Department, Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, and Stark County Adult and Juvenile Probation Authority in the major fundamentals of the program.  Ohio Criminal Justice Services (OCJS), the U.S. Attorney’s Office, and Kent State University also provided support at the event.

From the conference, local law enforcement agencies learned that a majority of violence stems from respect issues rather than directly from drug-related conflicts. The CIRV process works by identifying key individuals who cause violence and the groups with which they associate.  Representatives from these groups are then counseled and encouraged to spread the message of deterrence to others in their group.

During these counseling sessions, law enforcement officials and community members deliver a clear and consistent message of nonviolence. Law enforcement representatives explain there will be a close watch on future violent incidents; the next homicide (or other violent incident – determined by the CIRV law enforcement team) will result in swift, targeted enforcement by any legal means available of the entire group that is associated with the individual responsible for the violence. Although only the suspect will be held accountable for the violent act itself, the ongoing criminal activities of other group members will receive increased watch by law enforcement based on any past or future criminal behavior.

The Canton Police Department believes that the success of CIRV will not only be determined by law enforcement and the community working together, but by individuals involved in gangs realizing that true respect is not determined by using gun violence but by making good decisions in life.   We are hopeful that these targeted messages will have their intended effect and reduce the amount of senseless violence in problem areas of our community.

Would you like to become involved in the Community Initiative to Reduce Violence?  Call the Canton Police Department at (330) 489-3111 to learn more.

Contact Information: (330)489-3111

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