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Worcester Receives Shannon Community Safety Initiative Funding

For Immediate Release: 2/12/2019 9:11 am

City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. has announced that the Worcester Police Department will receive a Shannon Community Safety Initiative award in the amount of $656,525 to bolster efforts to reduce gang violence.

"Since 2015, the Worcester Youth Violence Prevention Initiative has made great strides in making our community safer for the next generation,” said City Manager Edward M. Augustus Jr. “This funding from the Shannon Community Safety Initiative is critical to our combined efforts with the Worcester Police Department in combating and preventing the societal factors that can lead to youth violence. We thank the Baker-Polito administration for their continued support in recognizing this work as one of our greatest priority areas.”

Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco announced the statewide release of $7.74 million in Shannon Funds. The awards were made to 15 sites made up of 27 cities and 13 research partners through the Shannon Community Safety Initiative, which targets gang violence in the Commonwealth.

“I am grateful to Governor Charlie Baker, Lt. Governor Karyn Polito and Secretary of Public Safety and Security Thomas Turco for their continued support to help reduce youth crime and gang violence,” said Chief Steven M. Sargent. “These programs have an impact on the youth in our city by providing them with opportunities and support. Our officers along with our partners have been able to reach at-risk youth and steer them on the right path.”

The grant will help serve the Worcester Police Department’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.

Programs administered by the Worcester Police Department enable police officers to have direct contact with residents, such as monitoring probationers and juvenile offenders, and provide safe and structured environments for youth, such as summer camp and athletic activities. Community nonprofits provide summer employment programs and support for caseworkers.

The following are Worcester Police Shannon 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 added 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.

The grant program is named after the late Senator Charles E. Shannon of Winchester. Senator Shannon represented Massachusetts’ Second Middlesex district of Winchester, Woburn, Somerville and Medford from 1991 until his death in 2005 from leukemia. Prior to serving in the legislature, he had spent twenty years on the Lexington Police.

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