Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Richmond, CA shows that Syracuse's latest anti-violence proposal could work

Syracuse City Hall. 2/14/22. (Photos by Max Mimaroglu)
Max Mimaroglu
Syracuse City Hall. 2/14/22. (Photos by Max Mimaroglu)

The city of Syracuse is considering a proposal to reduce violent crime that includes mental health circles, job training, and paying hundred dollar stipends to people who are prone to violence. A similar strategy was implemented in Richmond, California in 2010., and Syracuse Deputy Mayor Sharon Owens cites Richmond as proof their plan can work.

The city across the bay from San Francisco is about the same size as Syracuse. Richmond Community Services Deputy Director Sam Vaughn says his city has seen a 65% to 82% reduction in shootings that have led to injury or death since it was implemented in 2010.

“We engage those at the center of most impacted by gun violence, invited them to a relationship, a family, a process, that would help them become their true self. And there was monetary incentives for that but it wasn't to not be violent it was to obtain and achieve goals that they set for themselves,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn notes that Syracuse’s plan is a little different from their own. Richmond’s program provides at-risk youth with resources to help with the problems they individually are facing. But Vaughn said Syracuse is telling people what they need, by narrowing down the resources to just mental health, career services, and education.

“I think trying to create a recipe for someone without having them involved in what items they want in the meal is kind of you dictating this is what you need without even acknowledging what's going on with that person." Vaughn said. "You have to involve them in their success plan. If you're not the creator of your future, and I'm supporting cast, then we've made a wrong decision.”

Vaughn said Syracuse needs to individualize its program, and be patient with it. Otherwise, they risk losing the trust of the people they’re trying to help.

“If you don't do it, right, you can cause more harm than good. If you're not in it for the long haul, because this takes time to be effective. A lot of people try to put a band aid on something that needs internal surgery,” Vaughn said.

This plan doesn’t come without opposition and skepticism.

Syracuse Police Benevolent Association President Joseph Moran says most officers have a problem with the principle of paying people who may commit violent crimes. Common Councilor Pat Hogan expressed a similar concern in an op-ed on Syracuse dot com.

Syracuse’s Common Council has yet to bring the proposal up for a vote.

Matt Hassan is a senior broadcast and digital journalism student at Syracuse University's Newhouse School of Public Communications. He is minoring in History and sport management. Matt grew up in Port Washington, New York on Long Island. He creates print, radio, and television stories almost daily on a wide range of topics, including hard news, profiles, and sports. Matt hopes to pursue a career as either a reporter or producer of news.