Mayor Domenic J. Sarno and Health and Human Services (HHS) Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris announced today that the City of Springfield under the auspices of the Office of Racial Equity in the name of public health and safety; will be ‘taking it to the street’ – Gang Intervention and Prevention Initiative.
The City of Springfield Health and Human Services Department Office of Racial Equity in partnership with the Mission Inc., a nonprofit organization, will work together to coordinate intervention and prevention initiatives to address the needs of the most disenfranchised and low-income residents of Springfield, particularly those who are educationally disadvantaged, medically underserved, and presently, residents disproportionately infected and affected by COVID-19.
Mission Inc., in partnership with the City, will work directly with members of the community to help address issues involving gang activity; poor school achievement; at risk behaviors such as alcohol, tobacco, violence, and substance abuse; and unemployment and workforce development.
Mayor Sarno states, “As we have done with our Springfield Police Department by bringing on Behavioral Health Network (BHN) mental health specialists for street outreach aspects and as the Doobie Brothers would sing – ‘taking it to the streets.’ Commissioner Helen Caulton-Harris and I have moved to contract with The Mission, Inc. to proactively and immediately mediate and defuse through conflict resolution street gang violence – 24/7. Just as important, they will intervene to steer these individuals in question towards positive paths of education and workforce development aspects.”
“Can we get to them all, that is certainly our goal, but to those who still want to perpetrate violence; our partnership with our Federal Gang Task Force will handle these situations. To quell gang violence, we need to be unorthodox with a combination of not only law enforcement, but also an offer of opportunity to get out of gang life,” added Mayor Sarno.
HHS Commissioner Caulton-Harris stated, “The Springfield Department of Health and Human Services is dedicated to this innovative prevention and intervention partnership with the Mission Inc. It has long been recognized by public health professionals and organizations that violence is a public health issue. This initiative will support and expand our ongoing efforts to suppress violent behavior amongst our youth and focus on root causes.”
Brother Johnnie Muhammad added, “The Mission Inc. is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with the Department of Health and Human Services and the City of Springfield. Our goal is to make the communities in our City a decent and safe place to live.”