Classes had been dismissed at a Brooklyn, N.Y., high school when student Devonte Lewis stepped outside and two of his rivals opened fire, killing Lewis, 17. Police Capt. Derby St. Fort, instead of gathering enough evidence for a gang takedown, partnered with an anti-violence coalition and a neighborhood activist to gather 15 of the boys close to the dispute for weekly discussions led by a therapist at a local community center, paying them $150 to participate, reports the New York Times. The boys kept coming back, and over four months, none has been arrested with a gun or involved in a shooting.
The program represents a novel way to reduce crime by making community-based anti-violence work part of a precinct’s crime-fighting strategy. "We can address gun violence differently than what we’re doing,” St. Fort said. “We can have direct contact with the kids who are involved.” The program is a sharp departure from decades of aggressive policing tactics that reacted to violence but rarely focused on preventing it. A spokesman for Mayor Eric Adams said the city was watching this and other programs that focus on prevention to see how they could be replicated.