- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 3, 2002

The Metropolitan Police Department is trying a new approach to law enforcement, using a conflict resolution team of individuals and groups intended to stop crime before it starts.
The police department is assembling gang specialists, community activists, street-level intelligence gatherers, pastors, mental health specialists, and other government and private-sector groups to share information and work together.
The proposed conflict resolution team, which is awaiting approval by police Chief Charles H. Ramsey, has been spearheaded and will be overseen by the D.C. Office of Youth Violence Prevention.
In an orientation meeting earlier this month at Shiloh Baptist Church in Northwest, team members talked about the District's gang culture and discussed some of the practical ways they will try to prevent crime.
"There's a need for this in the community," said Officer Sean Dennis of the Office of Youth Violence Prevention, who helped create the conflict resolution team. "We got hit real hard this summer, as far as violence" is concerned.
There were 74 homicides in the District in June, July and August. July was especially bloody, with 33 homicides. Through Sept. 30, there have been 181 homicides in the District this year, a 15 percent increase over last year.
Janice Sullivan, deputy director of youth violence prevention, will oversee operations along with police Inspector Robin Hoey, director of youth violence prevention.
"This is a new approach," Mrs. Sullivan said. "In the District government, every agency has their own priorities, and although we try to work together, a lot of times things fall through the cracks. What we're trying to do is coordinate the services and pool our resources."
She said this is not just another initiative of big words and little action.
"It's unprecedented that we have such a level of commitment without any additional funding," Mrs. Sullivan said. "We have a group of people here that are just committed to the cause. They have nothing to gain other than being able to help."
The Fairfax County Police Department has implemented a similar strategy to combat gang violence, as The Washington Times reported in September.
The District's anti-crime team includes the Alliance of Concerned Men, as well as the Rev. Anthony Motley of Redemption Ministries and the Rev. Donald Isaac, executive director of the East of the River Clergy Police Community Partnership.
Mr. Motley said the crime resolution team is in part the result of momentum started with the Clergy Police Partnership about three years ago. The D.C. government is realizing that the faith community has to play a part in helping reduce and solve the city's crime problem, he said.
"We're finding out that our government is run by people, and it's run by people who have faith," Mr. Motley said. "They understand the role of faith in the lives of people."
The conflict resolution team will be divided into three regional operation commands one for the 3rd and 4th police districts; one for the 1st, 2nd and 5th police districts; and one for the 6th and 7th police districts.
Each regional operation command will be run by a police officer who will be assisted by four to six residents in providing information and resolving conflicts in schools and neighborhoods.
The police department also has created a database that not only will keep track of troublesome people and long-standing conflicts, but will also record agreements that are reached between rival gangs, Mr. Dennis said.

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