Mayor London Breed Announces $6 Million Grant for Gun Violence Prevention Program
SFPD will use state grant to support and expand the Violence Reduction Initiative that works to intervene with those who are most at risk of engaging in or being the victim of gun violence
San Francisco, CA — Mayor London N. Breed and San Francisco Police Chief William Scott today announced a $6 million grant awarded to the San Francisco Police Department (SFPD) from the Board of State and Community Corrections (BSCC). The money will continue funding the San Francisco Violence Reduction Initiative (VRI), which initially was awarded a $1.5 million grant in 2020 when VRI was created. This year’s new grant will fund continued operations that support the City’s efforts to prevent violent crime over the next three years.
“While we have made significant strides reforming our criminal justice system here in San Francisco, there is still work that needs to be done,” said Mayor Breed. “This grant allows us to continue supporting residents most at risk of committing violent offenses by meeting them where they are to prevent crime from happening in the first place. I want to thank our partners at the state and SFPD for their continued efforts to bridge the gap between the community and law enforcement while keeping the residents of San Francisco safe.”
VRI is a collaborative project developed by SFPD, in partnership with the University of Pennsylvania, the California Partnership for Safe Communities (CPSC), the Street Violence Intervention Program (SVIP) and Operation Genesis Inc. (OG). The goals of the VRI are to; reduce shootings and homicides, break the cycle of recidivism, and build trust between law enforcement and communities impacted by violence.
VRI identifies individuals who are at the greatest risk of either engaging in gun violence or falling victim to gun violence. The program has been implemented in San Francisco’s District 10, which includes the neighborhoods of Bayview – Hunter’s Point, Visitacion Valley, and Potrero Hill, and will eventually expand to other districts. SFPD and community partners reach out directly to these individuals about their risk and potential consequences of being involved in violence, the community’s desire for a different future for them, and to connect them immediately to special help and support resources.
“The goal of this program is to address violent crime and to reach those who are at the greatest risk of being impacted by gun violence, while reducing the need for police response. This program will strengthen the bridge between the SFPD and the community, which underscores the need for collaboration, and embodies our vision of 21st Century policing,” said Chief Bill Scott.
Under the VRI, all shootings and homicides in San Francisco are reviewed internally on a weekly basis with the purpose of preventing future and retaliatory shootings and victimization. VRI works closely with San Francisco’s SVIP and to date, have successfully engaged with over 100 individuals who have been involved or impacted by non-fatal shootings and homicides.
Initial examples of interventions taken include SVIP hiring a life coach who currently works with 12 individuals to provide intensive case management through a cognitive behavioral therapy model. SVIP with the addition of Operation Genesis are in the process of expanding this service to increase the number of individuals served. SVIP also partnered with SFPD, Macy’s, Operation Genesis Inc., and Union Square Bid Alliance for the first “Suit Up Initiative”, gifting 10 young men from the Alice Griffith community with new suits valued up to $600 as part of Operation Genesis’ self-empowering program.
This strategy draws explicitly from the focus deterrence strategy which has been rigorously evaluated and found to be successful at significantly reducing severe violence and reducing the re-arrest rate among participants. Over the next few years, the University of Pennsylvania will conduct a rigorous evaluation of the San Francisco Violence Reduction Initiative, with funding from the California Violence Intervention and Prevention Grant Program (CalVIP) grant.
Recent findings of an in-depth analysis of gun violence in San Francisco from 2017 through 2020 by the California Partnership for Safe Communities found that:
- 85% of those impacted by gun violence are Black and Latino men, even though they comprise less than 10% of the San Francisco’s total population.
- 29% of all violent gun crimes in 2019 took place in San Francisco’s Bayview, Potrero Hill, and Visitacion Valley neighborhoods, with a quarter of all the City’s homicides for the past five years occurring there.
- Those at the highest risk of gun violence in San Francisco are primarily Black and Latino men, ages 18-35, with extensive justice-system involvement and social connections to each other.
- This is the population that the Violence Reduction Initiative seeks to engage and support.
SFPD recently restructured the Investigation Bureau to include the newly created Strategic Investigation Division that includes the Homicide Unit, the Community Violence Response Team (CVRT) and the Crime Gun Intelligence Center (CGIC). The centralization of key units is critical for cross-unit planning and sharing of data analytics that target gun violence reduction in neighborhoods with higher rates of gun violence.