In the face of an intractable violent crime epidemic, Richmond, California, decided in 2007 to try out a new approach to the problem: paying people not to kill each other. Tim Murphy reports on the “Office of Neighborhood Safety”:
Here’s how it works:
A team of seven “neighborhood change agents” patrol the streets like beat cops, keeping tabs on the 50 high-risk members of what [DeVone] Boggan [who designed the initiative] calls the “focus group.” The coordinators, most of them former convicts, check in with their sources at corner stores, barbershops, and churches and report back daily on what they’ve heard. “I want us to hunt ‘em like they hunt, and I want us to hunt for information,” Boggan says. “We have better information than the police.” Once a certain level of trust has been established between the coordinators and their targets, a meeting is arranged, and the pitch is made.
In exchange for shunning…
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