Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Anti-Gang Program Gets Underway

Pittsburgh City Council has approved a second $200,000 outlay for the Pittsburgh Initiative to Reduce Crime, or PIRC--a program announced in 2008 and modeled after a successful effort in Boston.

PIRC Coordinator Jay Gilmer says the first meeting with gang members will take place next month, when community members, social service providers, and law enforcement will deliver a clear message that violence must stop. The accompanying message will be that the community cares about the gang members and needs them in neighborhoods doing good things, but if they can't abide by the rules, law enforcement will try to take them away so they can't hurt people.

For those who want to turn their lives around, Gilmer says there will be social services available through Pittsburgh Community Services in the Hill District: drug treatment, educational opportunities, job training, and more. Gilmer says the group One Vision One Life is also a critical partner, contrary to a recent study that found them to be ineffective.

The PIRC has a contract with the University of Pittsburgh to evaluate the program.

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