Gang Prevention Presentation
Fairfax County Office of
12000 Government Center Parkway, Suite 551
Fairfax, VA 22035-0065
703-324-3187, TTY 711, FAX 703-324-2010
Sept. 25, 2006
Review of Gang Prevention Efforts Presented to Board of Supervisors and School Board
“Every Child Is Worth Saving: A Community Partnership,” a review of gang prevention efforts in Fairfax County and the region during the past year was presented to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors and the Fairfax County School Board today at the Board of Supervisors’ regular meeting.
“This is a mission that we take very seriously,” said Board of Supervisors Chairman Gerald E. Connolly. “All of us in our community have a role in protecting our children’s future and the safety of our residents. The good news is that not only are we seeing continued success in the suppression effort, but we are making enormous progress in expanding and developing gang prevention and intervention efforts. The ongoing collaboration with the schools, in addition to the business community and nonprofit, faith and civic groups, is having a significant impact.”
During the past year, there has been a reduction of visible gang activity in schools; an 83 percent reduction in violent gang crime in the first quarter of 2006 as compared to the first quarter of 2005; and no evident increase in the number of gang members residing in Fairfax County.
The presentation by Fairfax County Gang Prevention Coordinator Robert Bermingham and Fairfax County Public Schools Violence Prevention Specialist P.D. O’Keefe focused on three areas: prevention, intervention and suppression. The three-pronged approach is based on the U.S. Department of Justice Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Gang Model, which was adopted at the Fairfax County Gang Prevention Summit, Feb. 25, 2005. “This is a long-term process,” pointed out Bermingham. “There’s no quick fix, but we are laying a strong foundation to go forward.”
Prevention efforts include the expansion of free after-school programs to five days a week in all public middle schools; a street outreach pilot program in partnership with the nonprofit Alternative House; and producing multimedia tools (educational programming, public service announcements, gang prevention Web page, handouts) for varied audiences. In addition, presentations and training on gang prevention have been provided to community, faith-based and business groups; parents; and county and school staff. Some 16,000 seventh- and eighth-grade students receive specific gang prevention lessons each year.
Intervention — providing youth and their families with the necessary resources to discontinue gang involvement — is one of the toughest goals, said Bermingham. Intervention initiatives encompass a range of county, school and community programs, such as student assistance collaboration between the schools and Fairfax-Falls Church Community Services Board to respond to students’ needs; coordinated efforts in the community to connect youth and families to assessments and treatments; and community-based gang intervention services.
Continuing to suppress gang activity in the area incorporates the expansion of the Fairfax County Police Department’s Gang Investigation Unit and placing school resource officers, who have received specialized gang prevention training, in all middle and high schools. Fairfax County also participates in the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force, which includes the chief law enforcement executives from surrounding jurisdictions; state and federal law enforcement partners; and court service unit directors and regional intervention coordinators.
The gang prevention presentation was made on behalf of the Fairfax County Coordinating Council for Gang Prevention, the Fairfax County Gang Prevention Steering Committee and Fairfax County Public Schools. The full Fairfax County Gang Prevention Year in Review: “Every Child Is Worth Saving: A Community Partnership” is available at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/gangprevention.
For more news and information, visit www.fairfaxcounty.gov/news.