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"Operation Ceasefire" may soon be implemented in Virginia

Flickr, Creative Commons: flickr.com/photos/mbandman/23033039562

Governor Glenn Youngkin is now considering an investment that would bring a program aimed at reducing violent crime to Virginia.

Operation Ceasefire started in Boston, where law enforcement agencies formed partnerships with community groups in an effort to address the issue of youth gun violence. Since that time, it's a model that's been replicated in several cities and a handful of states.

House Speaker Todd Gilbert says creating an Operation Ceasefire in Virginia will require a carrot and stick approach.

"We're willing to give you opportunities to get out of this lifestyle," the House Speaker says. "To stop with your bad behavior and that involves things like job training opportunities, tattoo removal for gang members where you can give them a viable path out of this lifestyle, educational opportunities; whatever it may be."

It’s an approach that was developed by criminologist David Kennedy, who says the idea is to put violent groups on notice that law enforcement will be watching them closely.

"Their drug dealing, their outstanding warrants, their unregistered cars, unpaid child support, unmet probation and parole obligations — often very low-level touches," Kennedy explains. "But when some critical mass of the group understands that violence will lead to that attention for the group, then that can change group norms and group behavior."

Governor Glenn Youngkin is now considering a budget proposal that would invest $5 million for a group violence intervention program in Virginia over two years.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.

Michael Pope is an author and journalist who lives in Old Town Alexandria.