George Hawthorne issued a report on his Providing Avenue to Hope (P.A.T.H.) meeting. I spent some time today reading the P.A.T.H. Program Initiative, which his Diversity Program Advisors developed for the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber of Commerce (which he serves as its executive director). In the P.A.T.H. plan (here), he says the the P.A.T.H. Program Initiative was developed by “adapting the guidelines established by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Comprehensive Response to America’s Youth Gang Problem.” It’s more than an adaptation. The P.A.T.H. program appears to be lifted almost directly from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention brochure: “Best Practices to Addressing Community Gang Problems.”
The five steps in the P.A.T.H. plan and the Best Practices are identical:
1. The community and its leaders acknowledge the youth gang problem.
2. The community conducts an assessment of the nature and scope of the youth gang problem, leading to the identification of a target community or communities and population(s).
3. Through a steering committee, the community and its leaders set goals and objectives to address the identified problem(s).
4. The steering committee makes available relevant programs, strategies, services, tactics, and procedures consistent with the Model’s five core strategies.
5. The steering committee evaluates the effectiveness of the response to the gang problem, reassesses the problem, and modifies approaches, as needed.
The five core strategies in the P.A.T.H. program are identical to those in the OJJDP Comprehensive Gang Model: Community Mobilization, Opportunities Provision, Social Intervention, Suppression and Organizational Change and Development
So are the Action Steps. The Lead Agency Advantages/Disadvantages Table is also taken from the OJJDP brochure.
What appears to be unique, at first glance, in the P.A.T.H. plan is what Hawthorne calls “P.A.T.H. Program Privately-Sponsored “Catalyst” Project.” Rather than let the steering committee and community identify the target community, the plan calls for Diversity Program Advisors to sponsor the Pensacola Family Resource Center, in the Brownsville Community to be a One-Stop Center Operating Facility. As we know, DPA has a purchase agreement for the Brownsville Middle School for $1 million. However, even that facility appears to be copied from the Best Practices brochure.
In that OJJDP brochure, there is a case study of a one-stop resource center in Richmond, VA. The services that DPA lists for the Pensacola Family Resource Center are identical to the Richmond center, except Hawthorne doesn’t mention Hispanics.
Here is another example of how similar the two documents are:
OJJDP Best Practices for Richmond facility:
Suppression activities include directed police patrols, community policing, community awareness, supporting increased law enforcement intelligence sharing, establishing a multiagency law enforcement and prosecution response to target gang leaders, increasing the number of school resource officers in target area schools, and expanding neighborhood watch teams in partnership with the Richmond Police Department and community members. GRIP also supports police department review of crime data for evaluation purposes.
P.A.T.H. Program Suppression activities include an on-site ―mini-precinct which provides directed police patrols, community policing, community awareness, supporting increased law enforcement intelligence sharing, establishing a multiagency law enforcement and prosecution response to target gang leaders, increasing the number of school resource officers in target area schools, and expanding neighborhood watch teams in partnership with the Escambia Sheriff and Pensacola Police Department’s and community members. P.A.T.H. also supports police department review of crime data for evaluation purposes.
I would highly recommend anyone serving on the P.A.T.H. Steering Committee read the OJJDP report. Note the first two steps involve the community agreeing there is a gang problem and conducting the assessment so as to identify a target community or communities. Brownsville may not be the best target neighborhood or community for addressing gangs. The actual crime data needs to be assessed first. Just because DPA has bought property in Brownsville doesn’t means that is the best spot for a one-stop facility. In fact, the Steering Committee needs to determine that after assessing the data whether a one-stop facility is even needed.
There is a danger in cutting and pasting together a program without the proper steps being taken. I have no doubt that the OJJDP model will work with the participation from the law enforcement, government agencies and the community. And if the Gulf Coast African-American Chamber wants to purpose this model to the Mayor, Sheriff, Pensacola City Council, Escambia County Commission and others, then I think it should be given serious consideration. I commend Hawthorne for bringing the model to the attention of the community. However, let’s be sure the model is implemented properly and completely.