Study: Synergy needed for violence prevention

Although San Francisco spends more than $58 million a year on violence prevention programs, a lack of coordination between a multitude of city agencies and community organizations has shortchanged the effectiveness of The City’s efforts, according to a $240,000 study done by UC San Francisco.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said he was not surprised by the results of the study — commissioned by his criminal justice office — but was pleased to have the problem independently investigated with “recommendations to move forward in a more coordinated manner.”

“We spend disproportionately more money than other cities, and the coordination has been lacking,” Newsom said. “That’s why we started this process. What we’re saying here is, with violence prevention, we’re not going to throw money at the problem.”

The five-point bottom line, according to the report, is that San Francisco’s violence prevention programs are too often focused on after-the-fact intervention responses; there’s a need for more “ongoing, strategic and meaningful community engagements”; there’s a lack of systemic coordination between agencies and organizations working in violence prevention; The City needs to expand its programs and resources; and there are no systems in place to share data, performance measures are not standardized and the effectiveness of programs, agencies and organizations are not evaluated consistently.

The report, in final draft form, will be presented to the Board of Supervisors next week, Newsom said, adding that he’s ready to move forward with the study’s recommendations. The first step is to convene a “violence prevention council” made up of representatives of various city agencies and organizations.

“The council will have a staff —and this is important because so many of these councils don’t have staff to implement some of the recommendations of the plan,” Newsom said. “We’re going to hit the ground running. … We’re already working on some executive orders and legislative chances to codify these recommendations.”

With 81 slayings to date in 2007, San Francisco’s homicide count is just four away from the 85 homicides recorded for all of 2006. Newsom said the new violence prevention effort was “much broader” than looking at preventing homicides.

“This is not your solution today to the homicides; it’s the solution tomorrow to violent crime,” Newsom said.

San Francisco’s violence prevention efforts involve myriad city departments including the Department of Public Health, the Human Services Agency, the probation department, the Department of Children, Youth and Families, the District Attorney’s Office and the Public Defender — as well as hundreds of city-funded community-based organizations, Newsom said.

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

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