Web correspondent Jenny Wilson reports:
Attorney General Eric Holder joined Gov. Dan Malloy, Sen. Richard Blumenthal, and U.S. Attorney David Fein in New Haven Tuesday to announce Project Longevity, a statewide initiative to reduce gun violence in cities across Connecticut. The program uses a strategy developed by criminologist David Kennedy, director of the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, that has been instituted in various cities and neighborhoods nationwide. Connecticut is the first state to implement the model, a move Malloy describes as, “a hell of a lot more holistic than anything we have done before,” because it gets the state involved in efforts “beyond the traditional prosecution role.”
Often called Operation Ceasefire, the strategy rests on the idea that a small percentage of the population, usually those who identify with some sort of gang, drug crew or other group, are responsible for the majority of crime. This model aims to combat that by reaching out to members of those groups and giving them a choice: curb violence or face increased pressure from law enforcement and harsh consequences in the future. In order to help members with this transition, government officials and acting community partners offer assistance in providing the rehabilitative support needed, like drug and alcohol addiction services, housing, employment, education, and mental health care. The program has already gotten off the ground in New Haven, and will next be implemented in Hartford and Bridgeport. Malloy said he envisions Project Longevity expanding to other cities as well.
“Project Longevity will send a powerful message that…such acts will not be tolerated, that they will be swiftly met with clear and predictable consequences, but also that help is available for all those that wish to break the cycle,” said Holder.
Holder says these efforts “are enabling us to be smart as well on tough on crime,” and to “think more creatively and act more collaboratively than we ever have before.” Sen. Blumenthal echoed that sentiment as well. “Gun violence ought to be eliminated and smarter policing ought to be the objective, not just because it saves lives but also because it saves dollars,” he said, alluding to the fact that helping provide resources to prevent violence both makes the community safer and helps avoid the high costs associated with incarceration.