Attorney General Bonta Meets with Representatives from Nationally Recognized Gun Violence Prevention Program in Stockton, Calls It Model to Be Replicated Across State
STOCKTON – California Attorney General Rob Bonta today met with Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln, City Manager Harry Black, Chief of Police Eric Jones, and Office of Violence Prevention (OVP) Director Daniel Muhammed to discuss the success of Stockton’s violence prevention efforts, including the Operation Peacekeeper and Operation Ceasefire programs. OVP’s programs bring together law enforcement, community leaders, and young people — and utilize data-driven, partnership-based violence prevention programs and strategies to defuse conflict and tackle gang and gun-related violence within the city of Stockton.
"Efforts like these, that bring communities and law enforcement together are a model for how we can protect and enhance public safety in this state," said Attorney General Bonta. "Community-based strategies, like those implemented in Stockton, prevent gun violence by giving people critical support and resources on the front end, before a tragedy occurs. We must use every tool in our toolbox to prevent gun violence in our communities. Strong gun safety protections, red flag laws, and other intervention efforts, including community-based violence interruption programs, like Operation Peacekeeper and Operation Ceasefire, are critical to stopping gun deaths."
“California continues to lead the nation in enacting comprehensive and common-sense gun violence prevention laws,” said Judy Weldon, Brady, Cleveland School Remembers Chapter. “I am proud, as a Stockton resident and a survivor of the 1989 Cleveland Elementary School shooting, that our city is also leading in California. Operation Ceasefire and Operation Peacekeepers have helped to keep our community safe and work with and within our community to help mediate conflict and heal trauma, reducing and preventing violence. These are the important programs that we must prioritize. Brady and Brady California are grateful to Stockton leadership and to Attorney General Bonta for spotlighting these important programs.”
“Stockton is now the third city that I have worked for that has used the Ceasefire model. However, Stockton is truly innovative and has optimized the effectiveness of this model,” said Stockton City Manager Harry Black. “Along with leveraging performance management, data analytics, and case management, we have the right leadership in place - a nationally recognized Police Chief and Office of Violence Prevention.”
"In 2011, the City of Stockton experienced 58 homicides and in 2012 there were 71,” said Stockton Chief of Police Eric Jones. “We began using the Ceasefire model in 2013 and have experienced a gradual decline in homicides since the implementation."
“The Office of Violence Prevention works with the most high-risk youth, young adults, and criminal offenders, to reduce and prevent violent crime," said Stockton Mayor Kevin Lincoln. "We value the role our Peacekeepers play in not only deterring violent crime in Stockton, but ultimately changing lives in the process. Every step of the way the individual, the person, is the focus, always at the forefront, and our OVP team never loses sight of that.”
Since 1998, Operation Peacekeeper has played a key role in local efforts to reduce gang-related homicides in the city of Stockton. Outreach workers, known as Peacekeepers, are trained in conflict resolution, mediation, mentoring, and case management. Peacekeepers mentor those at the highest risk for being perpetrators or victims of gun violence. They also respond to areas where violent crimes have occurred and talk with the friends and families of victims to prevent retaliation.
Operation Ceasefire has served as a model for similar programs in major cities including Boston, Chicago, Cincinnati, and Indianapolis. As part of the program, OVP identifies individuals at the highest risk of being a victim or perpetrator of gun violence and offers them mentorship, workforce training, employment, and other services.
Attorney General Bonta's visit coincides with President Biden's efforts to boost programs like OVP and California's efforts to expand on proven restorative justice models and strengthen early-intervention methods to prevent gun violence, such as the state’s red flag laws. The Biden Administration’s comprehensive strategy includes: measures to combat gun violence; tools and resources for local law enforcement to address violent crime; investments in community-based violence intervention and re-entry programs; and expanded support for at-risk youth.
The Attorney General is committed to employing strategies, statewide, that will help reduce gun violence in California communities, and furthering the California Department of Justice’s (DOJ) successful work. Last July, DOJ’s Special Operations Unit partnered with the Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office to target crime involving gangs that had been identified as one of the most violent security threats in Stockton. Members of these gangs were suspects in multiple shootings and unsolved homicides in the city. As a result of the investigation, 32 individuals were arrested and 38 firearms were seized, along with narcotics and U.S. currency.
In 2019, the Special Operations Unit partnered with the Stockton Police Department and the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office to target the Norteño street gang in and around Stockton, as well as incarcerated Nuestra Familia gang members. As a result of their investigative efforts, the shooting of a ten-year-old girl, who was playing in her backyard when she was shot, was solved and three subjects were arrested. Several additional acts of violence were deterred, including a planned armed robbery and attempted murder. The investigative effort resulted in 50 arrests, the seizure of 43 firearms, as well as narcotics and U.S. currency.