Fort Worth

Fort Worth City Leaders Exploring Programs to Lower Gun, Gang Violence

Leaders from the city of Fort Worth are looking at two anti-crime programs currently utilized in other cities in an attempt to curb violence crimes.

"What it comes down to is group violence intervention, specifically gun violence," said Fort Worth Deputy Chief Neil Noakes. "What the programs are, they're programs that are focused on helping the communities that are experiencing the most gun violence by going to the people who are actually maybe possibly involved in the gun violence offering incentives and alternatives to the gang lifestyle, giving them a pathway out."

Deputy Chief Noakes said he was approached by Fort Worth council-member Kelly Allen Gray and began researching the Advance Peace program in Richmond, California and the Stand Up SA program in San Antonio.

Both work similarly, according to Deputy Chief Noakes.

When compared to cities with a similar population-size, Noakes said Fort Worth experiences fewer murders as whole. In 2018, the city reported 59 murders with a population of about 850,000.

"But we also understand that 59 is not a good number. Zero is the number we want," he said. "It's not just rehabilitation for people who already involved with a violent lifestyle. It's not just intervention for those who are about to enter it, but it's also prevention."

Partnerships with the community may include working those who were once a part of that lifestyle, like Roger Foggle.

"Former gang banger, just like everybody else. Former gang banger, drug dealer…bad actor, the normal story," Foggle said, referring to his own past.

He now works as a barber at Millennium Cuts and says he's been approached by law enforcement to participate as part of their community outreach effort.

"A lot of people don't want to talk to the police, but they'll talk to someone from the community," Foggle said. "That's basically what I'm going to be doing, let[ting] them know some resources as far as education, finding financial literacy. I'm going to help with infant mortality, address infant mortality, mental health issues that we have."

After implementing the Advance Peace practices, the city of Richmond reportedly saw a 66 percent drop in gun violence within seven years. Part of the reduction was due to improved police practices and other anti-violence programs, according to Noakes.

He says the costs to run programs like the ones being explored can run anywhere between $400,000 and $600,000. Most of the costs are attributed to personnel, he said.

"What we're hoping to do is leverage a lot of the resources and programs we already have in Fort Worth. There's actually some really good programs that are doing some amazing work in Fort Worth. The problem is, some of them seem to be in silos. They're doing great work, but we're trying to bring those programs together," he explained.

Noakes says there's a chance the city of Fort Worth will not adopt a program identical to either of the two being looked at right now, but he says they are committed to having a program with the same goals and a right fit for Fort Worth.

City leaders say the next steps are to visit cities which already utilize these programs or similar ones to better understand the inner workings.

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