WORCESTER – On Tuesday, City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. announced that the Worcester Police Department will receive a Shannon Community Safety Initiative award in the amount of $490,000.00 to help reduce youth crime and gang violence.
“Reducing youth crime and gang violence are some of our strongest priority areas as we continue working to make Worcester one of the safest cities in New England,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus. “We extend our thanks to the Baker-Polito administration for their shared commitment in making all of our communities safer, especially for the next generation.”
The grant will help serve the WPD’s priorities outlined in the city’s Youth Violence Prevention Initiative — a program that launched in 2015 to combat gang violence through coordinated programs for social intervention, opportunities provision and suppression.
“We are grateful to the Baker- Polito Administration for their continuing support,” said Chief Steven M. Sargent. “This funding gives our officers the opportunity to collaborate with our community partners and work to reduce gang and youth violence. Our strategies have been successful in providing positive opportunities for our youth and improving the relationships that our next generation has with law enforcement.”
Worcester is one of 27 cities in Massachusetts to receive a grant through the Shannon Community Safety Initiative.
According to the WPD, the funds allocated will be used to support the Worcester Police Department Youth Violence Prevention Programs:
GANG AWARENESS FOR THE NEXT GENERATION (Summer GANG) camp fosters teamwork and healthy competition and establishes positive role models for 300 at-risk kids aged 10 through 13.
The POLICE/CLERGY PARTNERSHIP pairs one WPD officer with each of eight parish centers. The program makes neighborhoods safer by having officers and clergy visible and approachable to kids affected by crime and violence, and aids in youth development through positive relationships and access to resources.
POLICE ATHLETIC AND ACTIVITIES LEAGUE (PAAL) started in 2002 with basketball and boxing was added in 2015. In 2018, we are proposing the addition of a rugby program. PAAL has proved to be a great asset for referrals to other Shannon programs and in finding hard-to-reach youth.
FINAL NOTICE reduces violence among high-risk returning offenders. WPD and the County Sheriff work together to identify soon-to-be-released inmates who have been arrested for serious crimes and who have been identified as gang-affiliated.
POLICE MUSIC PROGRAM: ARTS AND MUSIC POLICE PARTNERSHIP (AMPP): The Arts and Music Police Partnership is a new program this year designed to facilitate collaboration with the Worcester Police and members from the local arts community in Worcester. The goal is to develop relationships with youth who are not interested in sports, and will also give youth a chance to develop their creative skills in a positive way.
PROJECT NIGHT LIGHT II team the Gang Unit and Juvenile Probation to strengthen probation as a violence-suppression and prevention tool. PNL II pairs WPD and probation officers for home visits after a juvenile offender’s curfew.
A network of organizations partner with the Worcester Police Department to enact the Shannon strategy, including: Worcester Police Gang Unit, Worcester Public Schools, Worcester Juvenile Probation, Worcester District Court Probation, Clark University, Boys and Girls Club of Worcester, The Worcester Youth Center, Worcester Community Action Council and Worcester House of Corrections.