Implemented a strategic, data-driven plan that directed increased funding to a street outreach program that decreased the youth assault victim rate from 22% in 2007 to less than 10% in 2019. That success came from implementing a comprehensive approach to violence reduction.
Conducted a three-year data-driven effort that helped provide a clearer picture of how the city’s police department could better match calls for service with staffing and police officer beats.
Used online capacity assessments to help City staff concentrate outreach efforts efficiently and boost the effectiveness of external partnerships.
‘Relationships Are Key’
What worked in Salinas is two-fold. Externally, CASP deploys a street outreach team that takes time to build trust and relationships with gang-affiliated youth. The aim is to reach individuals who are at risk before they become a victim of violence. Internally, the program convenes agencies and nonprofits and engages with them regularly, so that CASP staff can fast-track youth to the right types of services.
Four years ago, high school administrators identified the need to have on-site mental health services for students. Through CASP, the school district was able to connect with the City’s behavioral health department to place counselors at each school. They are still there today, a testament to the lasting effects of the program’s connections.
“The whole strategy of CASP is that relationships are key,” Arreola says.
His team relies on data to track the program’s progress. They work in partnership with the Monterey County Health Department to process data (from the police department and other agencies) and determine what is statistically significant. Homicide data, for example, is not useful in determining what drives violence, since it tends to be erratic. Heat maps that identify areas where violent assaults happen have been more helpful in guiding where the program directs its efforts, and in showing that it works. Arreola says his team is particularly proud of how the maps show hotspots diminishing over time.
“That represented thousands of youth not victimized by violence and thousands of families not living in fear,” he said.
CASP also uses data in the form of capacity assessments to gauge the engagement levels of existing partners, which helps City staff concentrate outreach efforts efficiently and boost the effectiveness of CASP’s external partners. Assessments have also helped identify new partners. For example, mindful that hospital-based violence intervention programs have proven to be valuable parts of other cities’ comprehensive strategies, the City launched a pilot out of the Natividad Medical Center’s Level II Trauma Center. The program, which offers trauma-informed care to violently injured patients, is now permanent.
Another reason CASP has been so effective is that it bridges a common gap among cities with gang violence: It’s not easy to connect young people who have dropped out of school with services. They often do not get any help until they make contact with the justice system after being arrested.
Having the data to show that CASP works helps sustain the effort. The initiative is now supported by a variety of funders including foundations and government grants.