Photo of a police officer kneeling and talking to a teenager with his hand on his head

Nearly $1 million grant to equip ‘first social responders,’ help at-risk kids

An enhanced partnership among Case Western Reserve University, the City of Cleveland and two Cleveland-area police departments focuses on reducing juvenile-related crimes through intervention and family services.

A new $979,000 federal grant allows officers from the Cleveland Metropolitan Housing Authority Police Department (CMHAPD) and the Cleveland Police Department (CPD) to serve as “first social responder” teams to intervene with youth offenders and their families. The approach represents further development of a strategy to address juvenile crime with intervention and prevention rather than just punishment.

The program will work with 9- to 14 -year-olds who have committed crimes—including aggravated robberies and domestic violence—through specialized family services. Local behavioral health agency Beech Brook will provide the intervention services and family support specialists, providing job training, financial advice and family counseling—among other services.

The program will also involve Central neighborhood residents and the Partnership For A Safer Cleveland.

Mark Singer featured in National Law Enforcement Museum’s Cleveland exhibit

Mark Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor in Family and Child Welfare at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, was recognized as part of the Five Communities exhibit at its recent grand opening at the National Law Enforcement Museum in Washington, D.C.

The National Law Enforcement Museum—among the nation’s only museums that explores nearly every facet of American law enforcement—features Singer’s work, highlighting “grassroots efforts to strengthen relationships between law enforcement and the community.”

Cleveland is featured with Dallas, Chicago, Somerville, Massachusetts, and Charleston, South Carolina.

Singer is honored for his work with the Partnership for a Safer Cleveland, which brings together local agencies, organizations and community leaders to make Cleveland’s neighborhoods safer. For 37 years, it has worked with the Cleveland Division of Police to protect Cleveland’s young adults and address youth violence.

The 2,000-square-foot exhibition uses photography, text and interactive elements to explore innovative ways communities have worked to improve the connection between police departments and community members.

“The earlier you can intervene when someone has committed a crime, the more likely you are to help that person turn their life around,” said Mark Singer, the Leonard W. Mayo Professor in Family and Child Welfare at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve. Singer also is deputy director of the Mandel School’s Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education.

Mark Singer
Mark Singer

“These are the types of programs that truly make a difference,” said CMHAPD Chief Andres Gonzalez. “I’ve always tried to provide my officers with more options rather than arresting a person or walking away from a situation without a resolution. I try to give them opportunities to have positive engagement with the people we serve. That’s what true community-oriented policing is about.”

Cleveland City Council recently approved the grant from U.S. Bureau of Justice Assistance. Singer said the project has already begun.

“From my decades of experience in policing, it’s become apparent to me that we need to do things differently,” said Thomas McCartney, commander of CPD’s Third District. “Hopefully, this program will help limit crime at its source by providing what’s needed to families.”

Singer said part of the funds will provide additional training for police on dealing with at-risk youth. Officers will learn skills focusing on positive citizen interactions. “In a police officer’s belt, he or she has a gun, TASER, a baton, handcuffs, a flashlight—all this equipment,” he said. “This partnership hopes to add few more tools to the toolbelt.”

For more information, contact Colin McEwen at