YOUTH CONFLICT AND VIOLENCE PLAN
1. Briefly describe the structure of your program.
The Alexandria Police Department has partnered with other City of Alexandria agencies to provide a coordinated and planned response to incidents of youth violence and conflict. The other City agencies involved are the City Schools, the Recreation Department, the Juvenile Court Services Unit, the Department of Human Services, the Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse, the Fire Department and the Office on Women. This plan provides a framework for an effective response to youth conflict and violence including measures to prevent the escalation of incidents of conflict and violence. This plan does not encompass the prevention programs and activities that are provided by each agency. Less serious incidents may only require the assistance of one or two of the City agencies listed above where major or more serious incidents may require all agencies to become involved.
The plan consists of four components:
1. The protocol for addressing specific types of incidents;
2. Specific information regarding the contribution of each agency to the plan;
3. The collection of statistics as agreed upon, relating to incidents of youth violence and conflict; and
4. The contact person from each agency participating and their phone number
The protocol for addressing specific incidents includes the notification of the Police Youth Unit two weeks in advance of scheduled dances, sporting events, or social gatherings that are likely to attract large groups of juveniles. The Police Youth Unit will assist in planning for adequate security and provide proper advance notification to police patrol commanders. The Youth Unit will investigate rumors of potential fights between students and appropriate intervention and mediation strategies will be used with the assistance of other agencies, as needed.
The faculty and staff of the City schools and the staff at the Cityís recreational facilities have agreed to contact members of the Police Youth Unit for all criminal offenses and incidents or rumors of incidents which may result in youth conflict and violence. This excludes emergency situations when immediate patrol response is needed. Youth detectives will thoroughly investigate all criminal offenses and incidents that could cause conflict and violence. The youth detectives may request the help of the other City agencies when using mediation and intervention strategies to resolve the conflict.
The Police Department, City Schools and the Fire Department have agreed to work together to prevent and/or control large unsupervised parties and dances. The Police Department Youth Unit attempts to closely monitor these events by thoroughly investigating posters and fliers advertising parties or dances at private locations.
Private individuals or groups often lease commercial property under the pretense of having a "private party." They then widely advertise these parties and charge admission at the door. These events are often problematic due to the fact they are usually overcrowded and not properly supervised. The youth detectives work with the fire marshals to investigate whether proper permits have been obtained and whether there is potential code or zoning violations. The owners of the property are then notified to ensure they are aware of the type of function to be held at the location. The youth detectives then work to have any event not properly supervised or in violation of City code canceled before they start.
The police youth detectives will contact appropriate school administrators when students are either victims of or connected to high-profile incidents such as deaths, serious injuries, or major crimes. This helps school staff prepare for potential problems and allow them to arrange for proper intervention and/or mediation efforts, using school resources or those of other City agencies cooperating with this plan.
When a major disturbance occurs, the Police Criminal Investigations Commander
may activate an emergency response team consisting of participating agency members. The team members shall meet to discuss and implement plans for intelligence gathering, intervention, and mediation efforts. Appropriate follow-up services available from each agency will also be discussed. The youth detectives investigate the underlying cause of the major disturbance involving youth within the community. While the uniformed patrol divisions provide the immediate response to such disturbances, it is essential that the underlying causes be identified and addressed through proper intervention and mediation efforts.
Participation Agency Contributions
The Police Youth Unit is responsible for response and intervention that often prevents further escalation of youth conflict and violence. They will investigate criminal offenses and rumors of fights and threats. They assist in mediation efforts through home visits and/or school conferences with the parties involved.
The City Schools will provide appropriate staff persons to assist with an emergency response team in the event one is needed for incidents involving youth conflict and violence. They have identified staff members who are trained in both anger and conflict management.
The Recreation Department provides space for youth meetings and stress debriefings led by members of the emergency response team. They will provide staff for the emergency response team.
The Juvenile Court Services Unit will designate two staff members trained in mediation services to serve on an emergency response team. The team will facilitate resolution of conflicts and disputes between individuals or groups at-risk of confrontation or those currently engaging in such activities.
The Department of Human Services will provide trained youth service professionals to assist in providing short-term emergency counseling and crisis intervention to Alexandria youth following a serious incident or major disturbance. They will also provide bilingual staff who could provide short-term translation services during an incident of youth conflict or violence. The Office of Youth Services staff is available to assist in convening emergency meetings of City and community agency representatives and key community leaders to respond to violent outbreaks or neighborhood crisis.
The Department of Mental Health, Mental Retardation, and Substance Abuse provides the services of two psychological counselors to help prevent the escalation of youth violence or conflict. They will provide conflict resolution, mediation and anger management services in the City schools or the community, as needed. They will also provide critical incident stress debriefing for youth experiencing violence and its aftermath.
The Fire Department will investigate potential or actual large unsupervised parties or dances. They will explore if the proper permits have been obtained and whether there are any actual or potential code violations. They will also provide canteen services through the Alexandria Volunteer Fire Department for utilization by the police and other City staff in the event of a major disturbance.
The Office on Women provides support services to victims of physical and sexual violence. They have trained staff and volunteers who will provide crisis intervention, referrals, and counseling to victims of relationship violence through their 24-hour hotline. They provide counseling services for adolescents who witness family violence or youths that are involved in an abusive relationship.
The member agencies collect and share monthly statistics on youth violence. The statistics are shared and discussed in order to monitor youth conflicts and violence-related problems and to serve as an early warning system for the community.
2. When was the program created and why?
In the summer of 1992, a meeting was held between the City Council and the School Board to discuss youth violence. It was decided to refer the issue of youth conflict and violence to the City and Schools Staff Group on Youth as an assignment. The Plan for Responding to Youth Conflict and Violence was developed as an outcome and recommendation from the Report on Youth Conflict and Violence in Alexandria prepared by the City and Schools Staff Group on Youth. The report was received and approved by City Council in June 1993. Following the development of the plan, the Police Department provided the training for agency representatives.
3. How do you measure the programís effectiveness?
The representatives of the member agencies who meet monthly discuss the statistics on youth conflict and violence, monitor any reported incidents and identify the early warning signs of possible conflict or violence.
4. How is the program financed?
Existing City resources are utilized which is absorbed by the member agencies operating budgets.
5. How is the community involved in the program, if at all? How has the community responded to the program?
The City and Schools Staff Group on Youth requested community input for the report to the City Council. The citizens were given the opportunity then to make comments when the report was completed.
The plan utilizes a team approach to youth violence. The member agencies address various assets of the youth violence issue, however none of the agencies has the overall responsibility for the coordination of the interagency activities. This plan creates a clear plan in responding to youth violence and conflict and avoids unnecessary duplication of effort. The goal is a greater collaboration within and between the agencies to increase the probability of an effective response.
Key community leaders are contacted and requested to respond to violent outbreaks or neighborhood crisis. The Community Action Team, made up of community leaders and citizens, assists the planís emergency response team in tracking down rumors and diffusing community unrest.
6. Contact Person:
The United States Conference of Mayors
J. Thomas Cochran, Executive Director
Copyright © 1999, US Conference of Mayors, All rights reserved.