Salinas Mayor Dennis Donohue (left) and United States Department of Justice liaison Gregory Joy listen as U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag speaks in Closter Park about the progress that has been made to help solve youth violence in Salinas, California. U.S. Attorney Haag was one of several distinguished visitors to Salinas on August 15 and 16. She along with representatives from the Department of Justice and the White House were in Salinas to take part in a National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention meeting that was held there. During her remarks to the media, U.S. Attorney Haag lauded the success she has seen in Salinas in the past two years. According to her, “the momentum is building.”
Salinas is one of just six cities in the National Forum, which began two years ago. At the direction of President Obama, the Departments of Justice and Education launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention to begin a national conversation concerning youth and gang violence, raise awareness, and elevate the issue to national significance.
Currently active in Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas and San Jose, California., with plans to expand to additional cities, the Forum is an Administration-led effort involving agencies from across the federal government, corporate partners, non-profit groups, neighborhood and faith-based organizations, and youth representatives. It also complements the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative, a Department of Justice-wide effort designed to prevent and reduce the damage caused by children’s exposure to violence.
The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention — Salinas & San Jose Chosen as Two of Six Cities in the Country
We must come together to share knowledge and experience about what works, creating networks of local law enforcement agencies, educators, public health providers, community and faith-based organizations, parents and kids to stand together in the fight against youth and gang violence. This administration will continue to do what it takes to reclaim our communities and our youth from crime and violence. The lives of our nation's children are at stake.
— United States Attorney General Eric Holder
At the direction of President Obama, the Departments of Justice and Education officially launched the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention (the Forum) along with participating localities and other federal agencies. The administration created the Forum as a context for participating localities to share challenges and promising strategies with each other and to explore how federal agencies can better support local efforts.
At a working session on October 4 – 5, 2010, teams from the cities of Boston, Chicago, Detroit, Memphis, Salinas, and San Jose met with federal agencies and each other to share information and experience about what works in preventing youth and gang violence. At that time each city pledged to develop or enhance comprehensive plans to prevent youth and gang violence in their city, using multi-disciplinary partnerships, balanced approaches and data-driven strategies. The various U.S. Attorneys’ offices were represented alongside their cities. The NDCA had two cities selected for this prestigious effort – San Jose and Salinas. For more information, please see the DOJ press release.
As pledged, the comprehensive plans have been developed and were presented at the Summit on Preventing Youth Violence in Washington, D.C. on April 4 -5, 2011. These plans aim to reduce violence, improve opportunities for youth, and encourage innovation at the local and federal levels. Mayors and U.S. Attorneys from each city attended the conference, working together on this important initiative. To learn more about the Summit, please see The Forum in the News.
Participating cities were selected on the basis of need, geographic diversity, and willingness and capacity to engage. Along with Justice and Education, participating federal agencies include the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Labor, and the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Our nation will be defined, and its progress will be determined, by the support that we provide – and the doors that we open – for our young people. The priorities that we set now are what will allow America’s next generation of leaders to rise above the current threats and obstacles and seize tomorrow’s opportunities. This is our great test – and, in many ways, it is the single most consequential challenge we face in determining America’s future.
— United States Attorney General Eric Holder
The National Forum: The City of Salinas
The City of Salinas, California has been dealing with gang violence for more than 50 years. The community has identified a number of related risk factors – including poverty, homelessness, poor schools, teen pregnancy, lack of out-of-school activities, family problems, and blight.
Salinas is framing a multi-pronged strategy to address these problems – efforts to promote positive youth development, connect law enforcement and the community in designing shared solutions, create a safe school environment and strong collaborations with support agencies, and address drug and alcohol abuse. To learn more about these efforts, please view the Salinas Plan: Summary of Youth Violence Prevention Plan.
To learn more about community efforts, please visit the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace's (CASP) new website highlighting the new plan For Our Future/Para Nuestro Futuro.
As part of the National Forum, representatives from myriad agencies and departments from Washington DC have been to Salinas with U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to help develop and encourage a comprehensive approach to gang violence. Representatives toured Salinas and saw the many programs and heard about new strategies being developed to combat gang violence. To learn more about the August 2011 visits, see:
- Faith Groups Hold Hope for Salinas' Gang Fight: Leaders Can Help Change Community Attitudes
- Anti-Gang Federal Officials Tour Salinas: Delegation's 2-Day Visit Looking Into Community Efforts Finishes Up Today
- Feds See City's Anti-Gang Efforts in Visit to Salinas: Salinas: Officials Brainstorm Ideas, Offer Help During Tour
- NPS Report Offers Ideas to Counter Salinas Gangs
- Federal Representatives in Battle against Gangs to Visit Salinas on Anti-Gang Strategies
- Federal Reps to Visit Salinas in Ongoing Fight Against Gangs
- Salinas Shootings on Downward Trend
The National Forum: The City of San Jose
The City of San José remains one of the “safest big cities in America” due in large part to the sustained efforts of the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force (MGPTF). The MGPTF, one of San José’s leading grass-roots initiatives, and a nationally recognized model, addresses issues of gang violence, and provides support to gang-involved youth and their families. The MGPTF model brings together the appropriate individuals and organizations to discuss community safety issues and comprehensive strategies to address anti-social behavior exhibited by youth. This national model has validated the theory that collaborative efforts, spanning a broad spectrum of community partners and stakeholders can be collectively responsible and accountable for promoting the safety, health, and welfare of youth, families, and communities. The MGPTF partners focus the majority of their efforts on promoting personal transformation, creating opportunities for youth to recognize and participate in alternatives to anti-social and violent behaviors through intervention services and new learning experiences. At the same time, an emphasis is placed on personal accountability in responding to violence and the use of fear or intimidation to exert influence in any neighborhood within the City of San José.
San Jose’s efforts have provided results. Since 2000, the rate of violent crime per 100,000 population has decreased by 38%, and there has been a 27% decrease in juvenile violent crime. Additionally, from 2009 to 2010, the number of gang-related incidents was down 34% and the number of violent gang crimes was down 20% from 2009 to 2010.
For more information about San Jose’s plan to address youth violence submitted as part of the Forum please see Summary of Youth Violence Prevention Plan. To learn more about the San Jose Mayor’s Gang Prevention Task Force please see visit Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force - City of San José.
As part of the National Forum, representatives from a variety of agencies and Departments have visited San Jose with U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag to learn about San Jose’s ongoing comprehensive efforts to address gang violence. For more information on the August 2011 visits see:
- San Jose's Gang-Prevention Efforts in Spotlight during Visit by Federal Officials
- Santa Clara County gets $50K for Gang Prevention
- San Jose Mayor's Gang Prevention Task Force Called A National Success
In May of 2011, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder met and visited with U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag and San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed, Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen as well as other law enforcement officials to learn more about San Jose’s comprehensive approach to gang violence and to discuss the importance of the Forum.
To learn more about the U.S. Attorney General’s visit, please see: