Begun Center joins Cleveland partners to reduce crime in Mt. Pleasant neighborhood

Case Western Reserve University’s Begun Center for Violence Research Prevention and Education will participate in the City of Cleveland’s three-year, $1 million project to reduce firearm-related violent crimes and assaults in Cleveland’s Mt. Pleasant neighborhood.

Cleveland was awarded funds from the U.S. Department of Justice’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program to provide programs that help people released from prison re-adjust to daily life in their former neighborhoods.

The Partnership for a Safer Cleveland, which has worked closely with faculty in the Begun Center on community policing initiatives, organized community groups (including the Begun Center) to collaborate on writing the proposal submitted by the city.

The center’s director, Daniel Flannery, applauded the city and community for receiving one of five grants despite federal budget cuts.

The center will collaborate with police and other law enforcement agencies, social service organizations and community residents on the project. The center will collect data; provide support and advice on sound, scientifically backed crime-reduction practices; and help evaluate and implement the project, Flannery said.

Mt. Pleasant is on Kinsman Avenue, between Lee Road and East 93rd Street, on Cleveland’s southeast side.  According to the crime index, in 2010, the neighborhood’s index is 738.6, compared to the national average of 266.

“This project brings together the crime-reduction efforts that we have been involved with in the community,” said Flannery. “Lots of factors contribute to violent crime perpetration and victimization that are not just the incident itself.”

Some of those crime-reduction initiatives have been integrated into the proposed plan:

  • Violence Gun Reduction and Interdiction Program is aimed at getting illegal guns out of the hands of felons and others.
  • Stand Together Against Neighborhood Crime will work with Mt. Pleasant residents and organizations on prevention and reentry efforts, such as Operation Night Light, which makes surprise visits to parolees and offers training to reintegrate them into the community.  Another is Operation Focus, a counseling and coaching service.
  • Fugitive Safe Surrender is targeted for 2014 in a Mt. Pleasant neighborhood church, where law enforcement, the criminal justice system and the clergy will collaborate to help nonviolent fugitives with low-level felonies surrender and resolve their outstanding warrants.

According to Flannery, this project highlights the kind of work the Begun Center does in helping community groups launch projects to target specific community needs.