NIJ Audio Transcript: Chicago CeaseFire: Post-Plenary Session

Candice Kane: OK, we're here to talk about CeaseFire and just to give you a little more information than you heard this morning, we normally spend a fair amount of time kind of doing this overview. But I'm going to breeze on through it because I really think that the meat of the program sits before you. It doesn't sit with me. I'm the chief operating officer. I'm the person kind of behind the scenes that makes sure that we have some structure to all this stuff.

You heard about the evaluation report this morning. I'm going to ask Charlie to pick up at the end a little bit more about this. We really did have some pretty significant success in Chicago, at least in the neighborhoods where we were working. We were working in enough of them, we think, to see citywide results, and I would say we were added value to what law enforcement and other community groups were already doing. We're not a substitute for what the police are doing. We're not a substitute for what's already happening in the communities. We are really value added to their work.

Our goal, as Gary said this morning, very simple. We're about stopping shootings and killings, not an anti-gang program, not an anti-drug program, not an anti-gun program. We work with the people that are most closely associated with the problem in the areas that are disproportionately affected. So we really look at those hot spots. You saw the picture this morning of the city and the problem is concentrated largely on the South and West Sides. We work within the hot spots that are even within those areas, and actually we're only working right now on about 25 percent of the neighborhoods that we think we should be in. So we're very data- and research-driven, very much guided in our work by what others have done before us and an analysis of the current data.

Gary talked a little bit this morning — actually he talked a lot — about the, about violence being a learned behavior that's reinforced by norms. So I'm not going to go through that.

Critical elements of CeaseFire. This is where the program really hits the ground, and if you want to say that you're doing CeaseFire in sort of Chicago style, then you need to have the right participants. You need to be working with the people that are most closely associated with the problem. I'm going to come back to that in a minute. We also have data that we can share for folks that are interested that talks a little bit more about who we actually are working with.

We need to work in the right community. We need to work where the problem is most acute. So we really have been selective. There are parts of Chicago, quite a few, where the violence problem isn't very high that any of us would be happy to live and feel very safe walking at night, using the usual cautions one would use in any community. But certainly it's not an equally distributed problem throughout the city. We have certain neighborhoods that are very high risk and we have others that are very low risk. We don't work in the low-risk areas.

We have to have the right partners. We found over time that that means that we have to have an organization that has a mission that's similar to ours that is trying to stop violence. That's interested in reducing shootings and killings, a group that can manage the population that we're looking to hire to be the workers, as well as committed to the population that we're trying to engage, and that are willing to do, for our purposes, all the data collection and documentation that we really require in order to figure out if we're making the kind of impact that we want. And we have some other criteria about their ability to manage money and things like that because we actually get money from the state that we pass through to local community partners. So accountability becomes a big issue for us.

Right workers with the right skills. We're going to talk a lot more about that.

The approach. We're going to talk a lot more about that.

Relationship with law enforcement. As I said, we kind of have this push-pull relationship with law enforcement. They give us data. They give us official data. Every three months, we get actual data from a police department that we map and that we manipulate and we use to kind of get a better handle on what's going on in our areas, as well as parts of the city that we're not active in.

They sit on our hiring panels. They participate side-by-side with us in selecting the staff that are going to be out there in the field.

They conduct background checks for us, which we actually ask them to do on a regular basis. It isn't just when someone is hired, but every six months. We ask that names be run through the department. As we're putting workers out in harm's way, we want to make sure that they actually are doing the kinds of things that we want them to do, and not putting themselves, the program or others at risk, not necessarily in that order. Themselves at risk for sure.

Perhaps when we started out, this was the most critical piece. We get daily notification of shootings that happened the night before or the day before. So we have an immediate notification from the police department as to what was happening.

We are also now, at least on the South Side, getting information from our hospital partner there. We respond to any shooting, trauma, stabbing, blunt trauma or stabbing victim who is brought to Christ Advocate Hospital. So we get immediate information, notification, and last year that was over 600 folks who were brought to the emergency department that we responded to in person within 30 to 60 minutes. So we got really good information about what was going on that could be fed right back into the field immediately.

But before we had that relationship established, we really were relying on police and then over time the contacts that were developed by our outreach staff and our interrupters because they actually then are getting information probably about the same time that law enforcement are getting it. So it's not as critical now, but it's still really important to maintain the relationship.

The right messages and messengers. You heard Gary talk this morning about credibility, you know, credible messengers, credible messengers, credible messengers. We can't emphasize that enough. And it's not just that these folks are credible messengers with the people that they're working with in the field. It's people at the community level, people at the city level. So we really have to address multiple audiences simultaneously in order to push out the messages regarding individual change and norm change that lead to change at the community level.

And then measures of effectiveness and accountability. And I would ask Tim if you'll talk just a minute or two about the kind of data that we collect from our community partners.

Tim Metzger: I would say, obviously, a program like this has a myriad of problems in terms of collecting data. We've gone — I've been with the program for seven years and the way that we collect data has changed multiple times over that time. We have had a lot of input from our community partners and specifically from street staff in terms of things that they're willing to document on a piece of paper that doesn't incriminate the people they're working with. So there's been a lot of sort of working through the language we use when we're trying to document what people are doing without documenting incriminating situations.

At this point, we have a Web-based data system that collects data from our community partners, from outreach workers and from the violence interrupters in terms of the work that they do. Some of that includes responses to shootings, the number of people that go to those, other activities that we have in the communities, the number of partners and meetings that our community agencies attend, public education materials distributed.

And then for, in terms of conflict mediations, which is what the violence interrupters do specifically, and what outreach workers do as well, we've created a system where we document sort of the primary reasons for conflicts and the risk factors behind those conflicts. And then what was done about it, and the outcomes.

And as, you know, this has been, it's a, it's a difficult task to document all this work, but I think between lots of people working together to try to figure out the best way to do it, I'm more comfortable now than I have ever been about the way that we're documenting things. So. There.

Kane: Thanks, Tim.

I mean, one of the big things about this is, you know, Tim already said, well, we're doing more now, we're more confident now. A lot of growth has taken place since we actually implemented the full program in CeaseFire West, which was the West Garfield, West Humboldt Park area, 11 or so years ago. We've learned, and we've incorporated those lessons learned into our daily work, which really goes directly to the data collection as well.

And there's been an enormous amount of training. We were doing some ad hoc training, doing a lot of things collected by paper. Now we have a fully automated system, which means that we have another challenge presented because we're trying to get our line staff, our field staff to do things electronically, and they're not always comfortable with that. So we're, we just tell them we're building their skills. We're preparing them for their next job. You know, it's a staff development opportunity. And they look at us like, "yeah, right." You know. "It just means you don't want to do the data entry."

But it's not just that. It means that we can have more timely feedback to them because we meet monthly with the sites and give them the feedback. The information, the data that they've given us, we feedback to them. So it's important for them to be able to use it as a management tool and as course correction. Are they working with the right people and that kind of stuff. Because we have four criteria for someone who's high risk — 4 out of 7 have to be met.

Oops. Here we go. OK. We're going to talk now more at length about the approach. This is what we actually do on the, on the ground. We have five core components. As I said — and I can't really stress enough — we are really looking to work with the people who are most likely to shoot someone else, or be shot themselves. Well, how do we find them? I'll let these guys talk about how we find them. But we're really looking for people who will be in harm's way. So what kinds of criteria would that mean?

Well, between 16 and 25 for the most part. Will we take someone who's younger or older? Absolutely, but they have to meet at least four of the other criteria.

Someone who's a recent victim of a shooting. Research tells us if you were involved in a shooting, you're at great likelihood that you're going to be involved again in a very short time horizon. And in fact, our work at Advocate — that's the reason that we're there. The trauma docs got tired of patching up the same people over and over, or subsequently hearing that someone had been killed. That they had, you know, they had saved their lives two weeks ago, and now they were going to a funeral.

Someone who's involved in high-risk activity. Mostly that means dealing drugs or gang involvement, weapons carrying, someone who has been actively involved in one or more violent gangs in the city.

You know, so we have set criteria that have to be applied. Will we take someone who has 3 of those 7? Yes, but then there are going to be questions asked like, "why did you really think that this person was going to be at high risk in the very near term?"

So I'd say at this point at least 85, 90 percent of the clients that we're working with meet the high-risk criteria. And that really only happened — we only got to that high a level when we had implemented the criteria but then were feeding back to our partners and our field staff. “You know, it looks like you're really not working with a really high-risk group.” So you know, another use of the data.

I want to stress while we only have a couple of representatives — who's that good-looking guy on the right there?

(Laughter.)

Frank Perez: Where, where, where?

Kane: We'll be going to that good-looking guy on the right in just a minute.

But I want to stress that we're really talking about not just outreach workers, not just interrupters because a lot of the media attention on the program, if you've seen some of that, has really focused on the work of the interrupters. They're part of a team. They're part of a team that includes folks that are responsible for community mobilization and overall direction of the staff, sometimes canvassers, people who go door to door to bring the message of the program, recruit community members to work with us. You know, who are actually —

And this happens to be the Baltimore team that Frank was there training that day. So we have a sister program called “Safe Streets” in Baltimore whose early data, an evaluation being done by Johns Hopkins, is very, is very promising. They only have one year of data. So we really can't say unequivocally that it's had an effect.

Kane: But, Frank, do you want to talk some about outreach?

Perez: Yeah. First, I wanted to follow up on a disclaimer about a comment that Candice made regarding our having stolen some aspects of the comprehensive gang model.

Kane: Did I say we stole it?

Perez: Well, I like to say we co-authored some of that stuff. So we were involved on the front end.

Yeah, also this team that she talked about in Baltimore — we're about to go in there next week actually, and do the training on the fourth site. So they're expanding into a fourth site in that city.

You know, you heard Gary talking about the violence interrupters and the work that the outreach workers do out on the street, but I guess one of the most important things that we have to do — I'm a social worker by trade. But beyond that point, we have to be able to get people who can reach that population. We have to get people who that population can look at, and say clearly what I'm smelling, those guys have eaten. So I can relate and they can relate to me. We call that credible messengers. That's what our workers are, credible messengers.

With that, of course, they have backgrounds. A good deal of these guys have been involved in the nonsense that's taking place today in their communities in a prior history. Many of them are former influentials with some of those mobs that we're working with. Many of them have X's on their backs. They're criminal, they're ex-felons. However, they've made that transition to be able to say the nonsense that's going on today in the community that I'm working in — I helped create that. So it's going to be people like me to help fix that problem. So we, we, we get what you call credible messengers.

Many people would say, well, what kind of safeguards do you put in play, you know, because sometimes things happen? People relapse as in any other thing. Right? Alcoholics, drug addicts. They relapse. There's problems. So sometimes that occurs. We're not perfect, but we're damn near, I like to say because we have some safeguards in place where we try to make sure that, in fact these individuals have stayed on that side, on our side of the line.

As Candice alluded to, we do background checks prior to coming on board. We do periodic background checks just in case they've slipped. We want to know about that. We don't want to have a surprise coming regarding that. We'll hire — forgive me because sometimes I go raw, but we hire everybody and “they mammy.” All right? Basically what I'm saying, we've hired guys who have done 30 calendars in prison for a gang homicide or so forth.

However, there are certain individuals we won't hire. There's two type of individuals we won't hire, and that is basically anyone who has committed a crime against a woman or a child. All right. Any other crime basically maybe we can deal with, but that kind of thing, that kind of background, even in the code of conduct of the criminal law community, that kind of conduct isn't acceptable. So we don't hire that kind of individual.

Are there any questions related to that that anybody would like to ask me? Yes, sir?

Questioner: Can you tell us a little bit more of how you measure or evaluate the credibility of a person who you're convinced has made a personal —

Perez: Sure. There are certain things that we look out for, like we won't hire you if you just got recently released from prison. You usually have to be out at least 12 months. It's not an individual hiring process, as Candice alluded to again. It's a panel that sits down, that you sit in front of. The panel would be made up of somebody from the project, myself, in most cases, a partner agency, somebody from clergy.

Also, law enforcement sits on that panel. And we come to a decision as a group on that individual. It works pretty well, but again, for the most part, you really have to hear the individual out, and also listen to other players who may already have been on the project who are looking out for the best interests of the project because a lot of the guys that we hire — they really take this thing to heart that they're doing something positive. They're paying back for a lot of the dirt they created. So they don't want nobody else messing it up for everybody else who's coming behind.

We've got this reputation coming out of the prison system where the guys in prison, which is usually unheard of, are talking about, you know, a program like this, that this is a good program. Get involved with it and don't mess it up, because if you mess it up, you mess it up for everybody else who comes behind. So a lot of the stuff we get on an individual comes directly from the streets, comes directly from the staff.

By the way, if we do have some problem staff, guess who's the first ones to let us know that we have some problem staff? Usually the streets, the guys involved in the life because, as we'll go on, we'll talk about some of the stuff or the relationships that we create by being involved in their life. You know, these credible messengers — you get to be credible messengers because you're from the hood. You've been there. You've done that. You haven't necessarily left the hood and moved over to happy heavens. You still live in the hood, except you're on a different level now. You're not involved in the violence, and you will not have anything to do with the violence, and you're trying to prevent or intervene in potential violent situations.

Kane: Do you want to talk just a minute about the training and the —

Perez: The training basically — it's an extensive thing. Prior to — when you come on board, you spend a total of six days with us. We spend something like two and a half days at the University of Illinois, the School of Public Health, and then we spend three and a half days out on the streets at different sites.

What I like to do is I like to mix 'em up because there are different communities that have problems. In the City of Chicago, if you know anything about Chicago, we call it “cultural identity.” We still suffer from some of the greatest racism in the country, you know. You got blacks living with the blacks. You got the Mexicans living with the Mexicans. You got the Puerto Ricans living with the Puerto Ricans. Hell, even the Caucasians are segregated. You got Italian heaven, Polish heaven. You know, you got these different ethnic Caucasians races.

So in Chicago, we take them out to different neighborhoods on those three and a half nights. They may spend one night in a black neighborhood, one night in a Mexican-American community, another night in the Puerto Rican community, because contrary to what people think, all Hispanics ain't the same. There are some differences. OK?

(Laughter.)

Perez: So they'll spend six days initially with us and then at least two hours per month on follow-up booster trainings where we will discuss a variety of the issues, anything — as I said, I'm a social worker, so anything around psychosocial human services, crisis intervention, anger management, domestic violence. You name it. We try to deal on those various issues, as well as any problems that are coming up that pertain specifically to that site.

Questioner: (Inaudible.)

Perez: The duties. Basically the duties involved — you know —

Question: The important thing (inaudible).

Perez: Sure, sure.

Question: I'm from the (inaudible), and while we don't have the gun violence, we have a tremendous amount of violence in high schools and fighting and things. We've been working with (inaudible) from the neighborhoods with the commonwealth attorney where it's now likely to find like (inaudible), something like that. The commonwealth attorney will not prosecute. They'll give it to me (inaudible), and we try to get those kids away from the gang. And we've got two right now, and one from (inaudible) neighborhoods. So how do you hire somebody, I mean, that at this point (inaudible) right now, but he can't go to certain neighborhoods. Do you let that go and just assign because you have the rival gangs? So how do you deal with that?

Perez: Yeah. One of the most important things that I tell everybody on the forefront is, is the individual worker's safety. I will not put a worker at — if there's some issue with that worker being somewhere, then I've got to think about that at the front end, at the hiring process. If, in fact — has he actually made the transition? If, in fact he has made the transition, but there's maybe some — you know, still, he's still skeptical. He still might be concerned. I may be apprehensive about putting him anywhere by themselves. Maybe I'll team 'em up with another worker from that area until that person gets comfortable. But if, in fact, you know, there's a real danger or fear, then I've got to think that out on the front end and say, you know, has he really crossed that line and put the project at risk of hiring somebody like that? I've got to be real careful with that because not only — we use the word “infiltrate.” I don't want anybody infiltrating the project, but at the same time, I got to be concerned about people's safety.

And knock on wood, to this day, me and Candice have been doing this for so many years, we actually get the opposite, rather than what people think. You know, a lot of people think that kind of work, working till 2 o'clock in the morning, aren't you in danger and whatnot? And what we're finding is actually the opposite. The guys who are involved in the life actually protect the workers, are looking out for the workers and whatnot. So, you know, I've got to keep that in mind as I train these guys and as I bring them on board.

Kane: We've also found in some of those instances that we treated that as a conflict that we need to mediate, and actually gone out, and talked with some of the folks that might not be comfortable with this person coming on, and doing the work. And explained what they're doing, and why they're doing it, and what we're trying to do, and have had some success in giving them greater latitude in terms of making sure that they can fulfill their duties.

Questioner: (Inaudible.)

Perez: Sure.

Questioner: How do you build that trust relationship between your folks that are working the outreach and (inaudible) persons because these are the people (inaudible). So, and then too,(inaudible). So I'm just trying to — but do you have any kind of free things that bring them back together, and you say they're in that position because they realize they've done (inaudible). And the thing about this is, how do you build that (inaudible) that trust a person more, that person's (inaudible)?

Kane: Slowly. We're in 16 or 17 neighborhoods in the city right now. We started in one, and we were fortunate that we started in a couple of beats that had the highest rate of shootings and killings, we think, in the country really. So we started in a very, very hot spot, and we were fortunate that we were, at that time, working with some police officers on the ground who have actually gone up through the ranks, and today is the deputy chief, the person that we started the most — the closest relationship there.

So it's really a question of a one-on-one, building the relationships, and then over time, as people kind of move to other jobs — in Chicago, you seem to be moving in the police department every six months or so. Folks kind of move around. And, and so while it's very frustrating to us that we have to build new relationships — you know, we're always explaining, we're always talking about what we're doing, we're always asking for feedback, we always want to know if they think that one of our workers is doing something that they shouldn't be doing. We want to know that. Frank gets those calls. I get those calls. And we either explain why they were out there, and why they saw them with the people that they saw them with. And that they were actually doing their job, they were actually in CeaseFire T-shirts, and they had proper ID, which is why they knew who they were. You know, they recognized them.

We had an instance where one of our workers was coming to — we have an annual breakfast, and the superintendent was at the event. And you know, in walks this fellow that he had put in prison some years ago, and he was like, “I heard you were out. I didn't know you were working for CeaseFire.” You know? And they chatted a little bit. It wasn't the most comfortable conversation. But I think that, you know, they each appreciated that they had a job to do, and they were about doing that work.

So have we persuaded all 13,000 police officers that we're there and we're doing a good job? No, absolutely not. Probably of the 13,000, my guess is, you know, 8,000 or 10,000 don't even know who we are. But, you know, we're making slow inroads to the point now where the deputy chief has called together commanders and said, look, these guys are out there. They're doing a job that really helps us, and you should trust them. You should at least give them a chance. Now, if we mess up, it's on us. And sometimes we do. You know, we're not perfect.

Perez: It's a double-edged sword. You know, you'll have those guys who, no matter what we do — you know, “You're hiring a bunch of ex-felons, ex-gang. They're just contributing to the problem.” But then you'll have those guys who will say, “You know what? We can't arrest our way out of this situation. We need some help.” You know, law enforcement traditionally — they come in and they — the analogy I use is they pick up something, you know, when it's broken already. We try to get in at the front end, before it gets broke, do something about it and so forth.

So, I mean, we will never satisfy everybody. There's going to always be that suspicion, you know, just like there's going to be suspicion on our part, you know, that all law enforcement is corrupt and no good, when we in fact know that that's not the case. So to answer your question, it's a double-edged sword.

Kane: We build trust with the police the same way we build trust with clients. You know, it takes time. And you know, people will test you, and you either succeed or fail. Hopefully, you have enough successes so that when you have a setback, there's enough of a reserve there to be able to come back and continue on with the work. But it's slow. You know, we have to show that we're out there doing the right thing. Doing the work that we said we were going to do, and start building that credibility with law enforcement. You know, it's a very slow process.

But we've been very fortunate that we've built a lot of credibility with people who have subsequently been in influential positions in the department, and they've then helped us as we've moved forward. And you know, this really happens by contact. It's by seeing us, by talking to us. And when I say “us,” at this point I'm really meaning at the community level that they're talking to whoever is the program manager for the site.

They tend not to have a lot of face-to-face contact with outreach workers or interrupters on the street. And when they do, we ask that they interact with them in the same way they would any other person. They get no special privilege, no special favors. The last thing we want to do is put our workers in jeopardy by them being thought to be a snitch or overly identified with law enforcement. They're not informants. They're not snitches. They're not collecting information so that they can hand it off to the police.

Yes, ma'am?

Questioner: Yes. I was wondering along those lines, how do you deal with confidentiality and information (inaudible) with people doing the work and law enforcement (inaudible). They're still (inaudible) but the law enforcement (inaudible).

Kane: Frank, do you want to answer that?

Perez: There is no — I mean, the workers are not — we're not the eyes and the ears of the police. That's not their job. Our job is to get at the front end to try to intervene in something. As Tim eluded to earlier, everything that we do in terms of documentation, when we write stuff down, I mean, we won't use a person's name. We'll use an identifier, a number, and so forth, and only the site director or the manager and the line staff or the outreach workers will know who that number goes to. In writing down case notes, you know, there's certain language that we don't want to write down that may incriminate. As you know, files can be subpoenaed in court and whatnot.

So we really have to be real careful because the population that we're working with, the individuals that we're working with — these are the individuals involved in that kind of life. If, in fact, it ever got out that we had anything to do with rather than helping them stop stuff at the front end but incarcerating or getting people locked up, there goes our credibility, there goes all the work that we've done over the years, and we will not be accepted by that community and so forth.

So there are precautions that we take in the documentation, in the keeping — what's the word I'm looking for — someone's identity from being put out there, confidentiality. It's tough, but there's a lot of stuff that we have to put in place because some of you will say, well, why didn't you help solve that homicide? Well, if we helped solve that homicide, we may not be able to prevent the 50 that were going to come behind. So you do the number. Which one are you going to do? So we got to be real careful with that.

And that might sound raw to you and those of you who are social workers and stuff, but the reality is that we're living in some times in some communities, as you all know, that they don't abide by the same rules. They do not. And we have to work from within that community and make changes from within that community to, to be able to get somewhere.

Kane: I want to keep us moving, so at least finish this, and then get it up to the rest of the questions.

We really use community mobilization as a way of calling attention to the problem in the community and bringing people into the — our network, our CeaseFire family, in effect. And one of the things that we do is make a big deal about every shooting or killing that takes place in one of our neighborhoods. So we have a response on the site of the incident and, and call attention to the fact that this is not acceptable, this is not the norm in our community, this isn't what we do. These are not opportunities to eulogize the death of someone. This is an opportunity to talk about the fact that a shooting or killing diminishes everyone. So whether it's a gang member or it's a 7-year-old child, we talk about the fact that this — it's a loss to us all.

We have public outcry. We do a lot of marching. We do different types of events and activities to call attention to what we're doing. And a lot of the activities we're also thinking as ways not only to kind of preach the message, and put our message out there, but also opportunities for, you know, community building, collective efficacy, connecting people with one another, giving people a chance to see who their neighbors are and see that there are a lot of other people that are concerned about this issue and to have some fun. You know, there are alternatives to doing other things on, you know, days, evenings, weekends.

I should add that we've — as part of our community mobilization, we try to work closely with faith leaders. We've had mixed success with that. We do very well in some neighborhoods and not as well in others. You know, sort of the nature of someone's, you know, calling, I guess in terms of some of the churches are more actively involved. Some of our local faith leaders are more actively involved.

All of this is supported by a massive public education messaging, getting the word out, what we're doing, why we're doing it, and we try, as we've talked repeatedly about having messengers that can connect with different audiences. So we have different people that are actually speaking to groups at all kinds of different times. Lots of different stuff that's out there.

Kane: Charlie, do you want to talk a little bit about this?

Charlie Ransford: Sure. For a number of years, we were doing our own research, and we were showing some very positive results. Like Candice said, one of the first communities we moved into — it was one of the worst communities in the entire country. We're talking about an area that's about a square mile or so, and they were having 50 to 60 shootings every single year. After a couple years of the CeaseFire program, we were able to get those numbers down to between 10 and 20 per year. We were averaging 42 percent drops in our first six communities. So we were showing some impressive results, results of statistical significance when compared to control groups.

And so thankfully, the National Institute of Justice recognized this, and they put a lot of money forward to help evaluate the program. It was a three-year evaluation. It covered four different types of statistical techniques, including time series analysis, which looked at the trends in shootings and killings over a period between 1991 and 2007, and it looked at how that trend shifted with the introduction of CeaseFire.

They also looked at how it shifted with the introduction of other programs such as PSN, and how that shifted after the CeaseFire program was taken out of communities.

They also looked at hot spot analysis and they brought in somebody who's been doing hot spot analysis for a number of years, Dick Block. So they brought in some real experts that knew what they were looking at and knew, knew what they were doing.

They even did a gang network analysis and looked at the relationships between gangs, and how that changed with the CeaseFire program.

And then they did a number of surveys of community residents, our clients, and they looked at what these attitudes were.

They found statistical significance in 6 of the 7 communities. Now, that seventh community did have reductions in shootings, did have reductions in killings. We looked at a comparison zone. There were similar types of reductions. So we didn't find statistical significance, but we did have drops, and so the program could have had an influence in those areas — in the other area as well. But 6 of the 7 had statistical significant drops.

And then there were also drops in — you know, looking at gang network homicides, retaliation homicides. They're drops in the concentration of shootings.

This is an example of the analysis that Dick Block did. He looked at like the concentration of shootings in an area and how that changed over time. He looked at two years before, two years after. And what you can see here is on the far top, far left are our treatment areas. Those are the areas where we initially had the program going, and the four on the right and on the bottom — those are the control groups. So visually you could see that there's changes in the concentration of shootings. Dick Block looked at this statistically. He looked at what the actual numbers were, the concentrations, and he found significant — statistically significant results in 4 of the 7 communities that he looked at.

And when I say statistically significant results, it's good to keep in mind that the drops — overall drops that we're talking about were 41 to 73 percent. So beyond the statistical significance, we've seen huge drops in our communities that the CeaseFire program was active in.

The surveys that we did showed a number of things. They showed that 99 percent of the people, our clients, were reporting positive results. The participants were — you know, received help getting out of gangs. They received help getting jobs. They received help getting education, advancing their lives. And the outreach workers were named as second only to parents as the most important adults in their life.

The important thing to keep in mind with this is we are talking about not just your everyday person. We're talking about high-risk people, people that have met a criteria that they are likely to be involved in shootings. They're likely to be involved in violence. And these are people that are not being served generally by other programs. These are people that, you know, a lot of clergy programs, a lot of — you know, those are dealing with people that, you know, might be able to — they might be able to reach, but they might not be as high risk. We're dealing with people that are of a certain age group.

We're dealing with people that were involved with shootings before, people that are actually in gangs and a lot of times have, you know, high roles in gangs, or are involved in illegal street activity. So we're dealing with a very high-risk group, and we're getting people saying that our outreach workers are serving as important mentors in their life, and they are serving as people that actually can get this behavior-change message delivered to these people, and make a change in their lives.

But it's not just about behavior change. Behavior change is where it starts. Behavior change is where it happens. But once their behavior changes, these people need to make adjustments in their lives. And the CeaseFire outreach workers help them make those adjustments in their life. They get them out of a gang. They get them a job. They get them on the road to an education.

And what's important to keep in mind with this is these are people that a lot of times do not have any work experience. So they might be able to mentally make the change in their minds, and be able to change their norms, but they don't know how to go into the workforce. They need help to know how to do a resume. They need help to know how to go into an interview and get a job. And they don't have that help from their parents. They don't have that help from other services. They don't know how to get these other services. You know, we're not necessarily giving them an education, but we're linking them up to the people that do give an education.

Yeah?

Questioner: You just started using a word, the “outreach worker.” Is that the same as the interrupter, or is that two different sets of people?

Ransford: Those are two different sets of people. Outreach workers are comparable to like, sort of a social service worker. They work individually with clients. They have a caseload of at least — the amount that we require them to have is 15 clients per outreach worker. And each of the people they deal with have to meet a certain criteria so that they are high-risk people. So they're working day-to-day with people.

A violence interrupter — he or she deals with an individual conflict. So they're not dealing with individual clients, but they deal with individual conflicts. So an example of that would be, we know a shooting took place. Somebody — you know, somebody went to the hospital, and we heard about this person that got shot. A lot of times what happens when a person gets shot in the gang culture is there's going to be a retaliation, and there might be several retaliations. We send our violence interrupters out to that situation to talk one-on-one with those people involved in the conflict and talk the situation down.

So the violence interrupters are doing basic conflict mediation type of work. The outreach workers are doing more kind of social service type of one-on-one, behavior change, norm change work with individual clients.

Kane: They'll also do mediations, but what we found in Chicago was that there was a need to kind of separate, or at least create a specialization for someone who could do conflict resolution and mediation because of the nature of the gang violence, quite frankly.

In Baltimore, they have one set of workers that are doing both — performing both functions. In other cities, you know, there may be a need to do some separation if another city had implemented this, or it may be a single job description. So it's going to vary site to site, but what we found was that we just didn't have enough outreach workers who were well-enough connected with some of our more active gangs in the city to be able to kind of wear both hats successfully.

Kane: I want to involve Amina and Alfonso just by asking very quickly for each of you, why did you get involved with CeaseFire? Alfonso?

Alfonso: I got involved with CeaseFire through (inaudible) with Tio Hardiman, and in the process how you can see the (inaudible) in the activities that I was in. I'd just go break some butts and legs. Excuse my language, but I have to (inaudible) familiar with it. (Inaudible.) Everybody try to hear that. And I think (inaudible) — he came on and talked to me, and as he said, he said, man, we ain't the policeman. We just trying to stop you all from shooting each other, fighting off our block, what I'm trying to say, doing criminal activity that I'm not allowed to do. But they interfere when they march. You know, stop the crime.

So about a year went along, he came back and asked me do I want a job. I told him yeah. He said, “you through with this — with the drugs?” I said (inaudible) since the day you talked to me. He said you might have changed. And so he took a chance. That's what it's all about, taking a chance. So he took a chance with me. I went out there and performed the best way I can, stopping the violence on the front end.

And on the front end it's really dangerous. The police come afterwards. We right there in the mix because this is our neighborhood that we come from. We know this neighborhood. We know the individuals who going to be shooting, what time they get drunk, what time they getting up in the morning, you know, and it varies because you got the women's fight. You got the guys, the guys fighting about the girls and the womens (inaudible). So we have to be out there all night sometimes.

And the reason we be out there, we have to talk to other violence interrupters because there might be someone else or another neighborhood. I might not know them as well as I know my neighborhood. So we have to talk to each and everybody, you know, call him, the other violence interrupter, the outreach worker because she might know the person. You know, (inaudible) along with doing it, you know.

It's hard but you got to have — you got to believe the work that you're doing. You got to love it. You got to, you know, just like it because it's your community. These are your kids. These are your nieces, your nephews. These are the ones (inaudible). You know, they don't have (inaudible), but they feel like they left alone. So that's the only thing they can do is to holler back out, shooting one another. There is not gangs no more like there used to be in the City of Chicago. It's cliques. That's even worse because you got dismal, dismal, dismal, dismal (inaudible) came from the same faction. It used to be a part of this organization to be a big one, but now they broke all to pieces.

So when you get them like that, we fighting a battle. And the battle you know is going to be hard, but you got to get the right people. You got to take that chance. Whoever got a organization, you all have to take the chance at hiring people like me, hire people like us (inaudible) with the outreach workers. You have to take that chance.

You know, the more we have our meetings at (inaudible) — we used to fight against each other. Now it's all of us together. We still have bickering, but we get over it. You gonna have that, but we got one, you know, just one message, stop the violence. Now, if you still in it, get away. Go on about your business.

Kane: Amina, what pulled you in?

Amina: Good morning. I was doing social services and it was a conflict that run in the schools in Southwest Side of Chicago in the Englewood area. And like Frank spoke about, it's, you know, the credibility of the streets, and people that I know and my family that I was birthed into.

This young man was about 15 years old, and he was fighting against another group that was — they were about 15, 16 as well. And gym shoes was stolen. So the next day he was going back there and he was going back there to kill the guys. And the mother —

Kane: Are you saying he was going to go kill someone over gym shoes?

Amina: Over some gym shoes. Over some gym shoes. And for them it's like, you know, it's the gym shoes, but it's, you know, you punked me. You punked me. You took something.

And it was a fight, but the young man got kicked out of school because he fought the group, but the group didn't get kicked out too. So it was a lot of egos going on and little kids' egos.

So I got a phone call from one of the violence interrupters that was working and asked me to make a phone call. And I made that phone call, and I knew nothing about this little kid. I knew nothing about his family, but you know, in the streets, as well as familywise, there's somebody that knows someone that knows someone.

And lo and behold, 15 minutes into me getting that phone call, we drove down on that little boy. At first he thought I was the police. You know, he didn't want to get in the car, and then at first he thought I was going to kill him because there was a lot of other stuff going on. And we got him to think of things a little different. His mom really wanted to get him out of town so he can change his mind set. So we got them to calm down.

The end result is the younger brother is still continuance in the school with the guys that stole the gym shoes, and they're getting along. It's not as volatile as before. You know, they mouth off a little bit, and sometimes that has caused some tension.

But you know, I got involved with CeaseFire because I knew, like Frank was saying, that the terror that I caused, and, you know, and in life before, and it wasn't a pretty picture. And I didn't know any better. So I didn't do any better. I didn't see that it was — I didn't see education. I didn't see anything college. I didn't see — I didn't even think that I was going to live past 20, you know, because that was the society that we lived in.

And as I started raising my thinking, as I started moving around, and I was really blessed to get out of the neighborhood, I started seeing that there was a downtown Chicago because the kids that we worked with and the youth that we worked with — they've never been — and they may live maybe about 7, 8 miles from downtown, and because of safety issues, they can't get out of that community as well as, you know, financial issues and whatever. I got out of town.

So I started seeing things different, and that's why people know and look at me like, “Man, if Amina can do it, you know, there must be something” — I'm not saying that, that if they may say “if Amina can do it,” they'll do it. They're not there. They'll listen. You know, they'll listen to reason of not wanting to commit a homicide or wanting to get into school. It will take a minute. It will take a little bit of myself, you know, coercing them, giving them encouragement, giving them hope. And you know, and that's one of the reasons why I stopped that because like Alfonso said, I — you know, this — I, I love what we do. You know. And it's very important to love.

And I heard questions about police. Are, are we, you know, in tune — do we communicate with the police. Our job as violence interrupters is prevention and intervention. You know, our goal is not to have our brothers and sisters arrested doing 20, life. Our goal is to get in their heads and, and that time to get in their heads and say, “Look, don't do.” You know I was off the streets for a while, and you know why I was off the streets for a while. And it's worse now.

We get the stats. Candice was speaking about how the police gives daily stats. Violence interrupters — we already know. It's just really actually confirmation to administration on what's — because we're on it. If there's a shooting — and this happens all the time. If there's a shooting or a shot's fired or a body drop or whatever, we already know and we know why. But if the police is on the scene, we back, back, go under, and find out really why because 9 times out of 10 it's about a girl, it's about a guy, it's about shut up, you stepped on my shoes, and it's also about sometimes 20-, 30-, 40-year wars that these little — these kids don't know nothing about. And it's twisted up and turned around, and it's crazy. So we know the truths of what happened back then, and we try to give them the education of why that war started and now that war is finished with. Why do you want to bring it back up?

You know, as a violence interrupter — and I'm 1 of 2 violence interrupters in Chicago, and I work with the population of both male and females. I think it's harder speaking with my sisters, maybe white, black, Latino, because you know, you're dealing with a whole bunch of other energies going on. And you know, it's like from 1 to 10 in 8.6-minus seconds. So to get them to settle it down, because it's not about personal — they'll call uncle, they'll call brother, they'll call cousin, they'll call people from out of town, get a war started from — to Milwaukee. They'll get stuff started on the West Side all because of a boy, whatever, or a girl stepped on my shoes or whatever.

So Candice asked me why. That's why.

(Laughter.)

Amina: Dealing with — the gentleman asked about, is violence interrupters the same or different as outreach workers. We're different. However, we work closely together. In a violence interrupter role, if there's a brother or a sister that have — they've just come home from the penitentiary doing a bit or they're ready — they're sick and tired of being sick and tired, and they're saying, look, Amina, give me something, then we'll refer them to the outreach.

We're not speaking about the guns. We're not speaking about the dope or with the bangers. We're not — we're still working with them. We're still engaging them into activities that we do have like baseball games. We're dealing with 18-year-olds, 15-year-olds that's never been to baseball, basketball, hockey games, nothing. So we give them that. We give them hope and nurture their mind sets to think about school, think about asking that question about a job. Or asking and humbling themselves to say, “I don't know how to write a resume,” or “I don't know what to wear on an interview.” Because the girls are so used to wearing what they wear. The giddy girls and the boys are used to — you know, down to their knees, you know. So they can come and say, “You know what, Amina, Alfonso, we need some help in learning how to do what you guys do.” Far as, not the job, but thinking and dressing and going and standing in front of Candice, Ella, you guys. So we refer guys and girls to outreach for GEDs, education ready, different things like that.

So that's why I am a violence interrupter.

Kane: I have to apologize for not bringing more enthusiastic staff with me.

(Laughter.)

Kane: Next time, I'll do better. You know.

(Laughter.)

Kane: I've got more questions, but I want you guys here to have an opportunity. And I will ask the panelists to be brief in their answers. Yes?

Questioner: When an outreach participant leaves CeaseFire, where are they directed? Are they directed to other motivation or are they directed to mentoring or —

Kane: So it's a variety. We have in each neighborhood, we actually develop partnerships/coalition with other service providers. So depending on the needs — you saw the referral list. That's generally provided through a partner group. But the outreach workers and the interrupters both are always working with folks that they see on the streets around anger management, conflict resolution, those kinds of things. So we try to use an array of service providers.

I got to tell you that most of the programs that are desired the most are really hard skills.

There's someone way in the back. Yeah.

Questioner: I just wondered what kind of training your outreach workers get on domestic violence and teen dating violence. It seems like that's a big part of what you're dealing with. And is there anyone who's professionally sitting down with you and saying, hey, here's the dynamics of — I mean, I know there's a difference between what happens on the street and the research, but —

Kane: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's an issue that we're very aware of, and we've already had one training. We've got another training that's going to be done, and in a previous life, I worked very closely with our coalitions against sexual assault and domestic violence. So they're my go-to people that we bring in. And as it happens, the trainer from the sexual assault coalition, in particular, has had work in the area of corrections. So she's really, really good in terms of her understanding of the population that we're working with, as well as the folks that we hire. So she can speak in a way that a lot of us can't as far as being credible with them.

Questioner: Can you talk about (inaudible) and, you know, like do the outreach workers and interrupters do that (inaudible)? How does that work?

Kane: Tim?

Metzger: Well, I mean, there's been — for many years, it was just sort of a paperwork format, and we would have — so there's trainings for the outreach workers on the intake forms for all their clients, which the — like identifying information if the client doesn't go on that paper. They have a ID number and we don't ask for their date of birth. We ask for the year of birth and that information. So there's an intake form and some sort of risk reduction plan, which was what the participant was interested in working on for themselves.

You know, so it was designed that we train towards this participant might have X, Y and Z issues, but if they only want help with Y, that's what you're going to work on. Because if you say they have substance abuse issues, and that's what they really need help on, but they're not interested in that, then you're not going to get anywhere. So the risk reduction plan and then the case note, which is something that they do every time they work with their client. And they're supposed to see their client at least twice a week — or participant.

So all that information has been transferred into an electronic format and we've, in the last four months, been really — it's added to the training that Frank was mentioning to train all the outreach staff. And we have staff with varying degrees of computer literacy, but it seems to be working very well. I get a lot of phone calls asking for technical assistance. But overall I think that the staff are — it's building their skills and they're much more — it's more fun, I think, than filling out paperwork.

And then for the interrupters, there's another form that they fill out. And they have meetings every week, and once a month, we go over each of the forms for that month. And you know, the Director of Mediation Services Tia, who Alfonso was talking about — we walk through, you know, like tell us where this happened, what happened, and you know, is it really a conflict. So there's sort of a checks and balances to make sure the, that what they're filling out has actually occurred. I don't know if there —

Kane: Thanks.

Yes, ma'am.

Questioner: Besides involved in a shooting, or likely to be involved in a shooting, what other criteria do you classify (inaudible)?

Kane: Age, criminal history, whether they have crimes against persons, whether they're a weapons carrier, whether or not they've recently been shot, whether they're an active member in one of our more violent gangs in Chicago. We actually have gangs in Chicago that are not involved in a lot of violence. A key member, if they're an influential person in a particular gang. Did I get them?

Speaker: Victim? Did you say victim of violence?

Kane: Yes, victim of violence, victim of shooting, recent victim.

Yes, ma'am?

Questioner: What kind of support services do you have for the interrupters? You talked about monitoring things to make sure that they don't do that. What kind of services are available for them or (inaudible)?

Kane: Yeah. We actually have the good fortune of having a psychologist on staff who's supposed to be head of our evaluation unit. But quite frankly, she spends a lot more time, you know, working one-on-one and debriefing with the workers. So if there's an incident that involves a number of people, she'll sit down with everybody, and kind of go through that and the impact that that has on them.

And then we've also, in the last, oh, year or two, put a lot more emphasis on staff development so that we're recognizing — and Frank has been saying for a long time that the life of an outreach worker or the life of a field staff member for us is three to five years. And we're really now taking that very seriously. And we know that there are some people that are going to be successful out there for a longer period of time. But our plan is to help people build their skills so that they can transition into another position where they'll be successful. They won't have to work just for us. If they choose to, and we can kind of build out their skills to kind of move them into other, other job, job tracks.

Sir?

Questioner: What relationships do you have in the schools and have there been any challenges in how you (inaudible)?

Kane: Alfonso, do you want to talk a little bit about what you've done in school? Briefly.

Alfonso: In school violence, there's a lot violence. When you have school violence, we can't — by me being an ex-con, I can't go into the school and speak. So what I do — I know everybody coming out of my community why they're from. I try to tell it to them, but once they get to the schools, they got a lot of adversaries, you know, they have to go through and (inaudible) they have to go through.

So what we have to do with the other violence interrupters who might work another beat — I have to talk to them about we being a team. You talk to them and let them know, say them guys over there fighting. I just heard one of 'em say they goin' up to the school and get down. So we have to get up there, try to beat them up there, and get them to stop them from fighting up at the school.

Kane: We now have funding from the Angel Network, Oprah's foundation, to actually pilot some of our work in the schools. We have some outreach workers that are going to be doing some work in the schools while the interrupters are kind of active around the schools. Because in Chicago, you know, the public schools will tell you that everything is fine in the schools. They have no problems, but everything — all the violence that takes place takes place in the community. What we've found is there are things that start in the schools that play out in the community. There are things that start in the community, play out in the schools. And so we now — we're actually going to be piloting a response that's a little more organized than what we've done in the past, which is kind of ad hoc. If there's a lot of stuff going on — and I think, Amina, you got pulled into some of the stuff at Crane.

Amina: No. That was Swain. (Inaudible.)

Kane: Swain. Oh, OK. You know —

Amina: (Inaudible.)

Kane: OK.

Alfonso: The Crane thing — it was a big war going on. We had to get up there in the school. And then the principal allowed us to get there in the school, you know, and do role playing with the guys who was involved. And it was a gang war between — guys, one guy got killed. (Inaudible) from a project, you know, who dominate this little area. There's one group that dominates this area, and wouldn't allow the other group to come down there to get in school. You know, these are our kids that we're talking about that get in these schools, and we have to get up there and stop them from going violent.

Kane: So we've done one on one and some group work. We've done some mediations actually in the schools, but we're really now piloting something that's a little more structured.

We've got about five more minutes. Yes, sir?

Questioner: How does and can the federal government most effectively support your work? Are there programmatic and cultural differences between your engagement with the Department of Justice or do you engage with the Department of Health — (inaudible) Department of Health?

Kane: We actually haven't had any experience with — well, we've got — we get money from the Department of Justice, for which we are very thankful. And it supports our site on the West Side that is really sort of our demonstration site. It's the one that, through all the ups and downs, continues and it continues because of the support that we've gotten from OJP.

In terms of work with others, we have — HHS has given us some funding for capacity building. So, you know, we have some support for training. And we're always building relationships with other departments to see if we can kind of push out. We're particularly interested in having a relationship with the Department of Labor.

And then we have community — there are other groups that we partner with. We partner with the Safer Foundation on some re-entry work, some work that's been piloted based on the Urban Institute's activities and other groups where there's federal funds that flow to us, you know, through contractual relationships.

Questioner: Do you have office space or are you meeting still in facilities of your partners?

Kane: We, we — the money that we get from the state — we get $6.25 million from the State of Illinois, which then is subcontracted out to partner groups — mostly subcontracted out to partner groups. There are a couple of areas where we have to manage the program because we couldn't find a local partner. But they then have open storefronts if their base of operation is not already in one of the hot spot areas. And then, you know, a lot of churches have been great in opening their doors and giving us meeting space. You know, we are frequently doing things. Particularly if you need to have a meeting in a neutral site and we want to make sure that different groups are comfortable coming there, we've had great success with that.

Frank, did you want to — OK.

Yes, sir?

Questioner: Do the violence interrupters get any kind of safety training? You know, they're out there in the field doing this work —

Kane: Yeah. They've gotten some safety training and they've also gotten legal training. You know we've —

(Laughter.)

Frank: Which is safety training. It's a safe thing.

Kane: Really, we've had attorneys come in and speak with them about, you know, how to conduct themselves if they're the subject of an investigation or not the subject of an — if they're being questioned by law enforcement. So, yes, they have.

Barbara, did you have a question?

Barbara: Yes. I was wondering when you look at this program as a public health initiative in which you're trying to saturate the field with this message (inaudible) interim — the transmission of this violence, do you think you've reached the point of saturation? I mean, you mentioned that you're basically dealing with outreach participants that meet the criteria for high risk (inaudible). But how many outreach potential participants don't you identify (inaudible) help yet? So getting back to (inaudible), have you saturated your market with this message, or are you in some ways kind of (inaudible)?

Kane: We haven't, we haven't maxed out yet.

Charlie, do you want to suggest what it would cost for us to max out and the number of workers we'd need to have on the street?

Ransford: Well, we've done a number of analyses to look at like specifically in Chicago, what it would take to saturate the city, as well as nationwide to look at other cities. Because we were mentioned in the Byrd Grant application as a program for replication. But as well, you know, we would like to replicate this in other areas and we're looking at other cities.

Specifically in Chicago, we believe it would take about 261 outreach workers and somewhere in the neighborhood of like about 60 or so violence interrupters, 50 to 60 violence interrupters to really saturate the whole city. And what that means is we've identified — you know, there's about 280 police beats in Chicago. There's 117 that account for 76 percent of the shootings and killings. So if we can get into those 117 police beats and really saturate this idea of behavior change in those areas, we feel like we can have a substantial effect on the entire city. And so that's Chicago.

(No response.)

You know, we look at the same type of analyses in other cities. We'll look at how many areas and how many outreach workers we'll need for those areas so we can target it on those specific areas because when you're talking about saturation, it's specific to the areas where there's the highest need.

Kane: We can do one more question. Yeah?

Questioner: The gentleman (inaudible) Department of Health. I would really encourage you to — I'm a clinician. I'm a physician assistant. And if you were to look at health professionals, you could get a lot of support. We see these issues — violence as health issues, and we see the children coming into the clinics getting physicals and so on, and education is something that's very important. So it's just another place maybe to think of looking at how you might partner with your message because I could even imagine having the message brought to families through health professionals in the clinics. There are lots of additional — and the Department of Health. I worked in, in New Mexico for years. The Department of Health would be a natural —

Kane: Yes. The program in Baltimore is anchored out of the health department there. And we routinely try to engage with the health department, but it doesn't always work, you know. But I must say some of our strongest advocates in Chicago are the trauma docs that, you know, see these folks coming in day in and day out.

Because the Attorney General is going to be speaking, I need to cut this off. I want to thank you all for your attention. You are asked to be seated by 11:50 because I am gathering he's on a tight schedule. Thanks so much for coming.

(Applause.)

(End of session.)​