Ben Bartlett and the Berkeley City Council Introduces Legislation on Group Violence Intervention (GVI) Program – to address Gun Violence in the Community
Berkeley – Berkeley has been experiencing an alarming rise in shootings throughout the City. This year alone, there have been more than 30 shootings, including one occurring on the night of October 21, 2020 that tragically left a woman gravely injured in a drive-by shooting on Prince Street in South Berkeley.
“The recent heartbreaking gun violence must come to an end, and I am ready to work collaboratively with our community in developing an effective program to achieve that goal,” Mayor Jesse Arreguin said.
Today, Councilmember Bartlett introduced urgent legislation and is calling on the City to establish a Group Violence Intervention Program (GVI), or “Operation Ceasefire,” which will assemble an inter-jurisdictional working group of law enforcement agencies, community members, and support services providers to address the cascading cycles of gun violence.
Co-sponsored by Mayor Arreguin and Councilmember Rashi Kesarwani, the item will be discussed at today’s City Council meeting if approved to be agendized. “By looking at the success of similar programs in other cities and catering it towards the needs of Berkeley, we can develop safe communities together,” Mayor Arreguin said.
Specifically, the program will identify young adults (ages 18-30) who are at greatest risk of being involved in gun violence, develop an intervention team to communicate directly and respectfully to at-risk individuals, implement an intervention plan to provide wrap-around and support services, and create a public education campaign to promote these efforts.
In cities throughout the country, GVI has proven to be an effective tool for reducing homicides and strengthening trust between community members and law enforcement. The City has the power to act now to develop its own GVI program to address the tragic rise in shootings and homicides plaguing our city.
In recognition of the interlocking geographic nature of those committing gun crimes as well as their victims, the GVI program will be centered on Berkeley. However, it should also be connected to and work in concert with community workers in neighboring jurisdictions including Oakland, Richmond, Antioch, and San Francisco.
“GVI aligns with our goals of reimagining policing, and is a more robust version of the Specialized Care Unit envisioned in the George Floyd Community Safety Act,” Councilmember Bartlett said. “The program also paves the way for greater regional collaboration, protecting communities from gun violence in Berkeley and across the Bay Area. People have put in years of work developing this model. Let’s raise up the community’s efforts and create lasting peace in the streets. Our children deserve to be safe.”
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