Gov. Kenneth Mapp has signed a contract for technical and strategic assistance as it relates to reducing gang violence in the territory, according to Government House.
The contract is between the V.I. Government and Police Department and the Research Foundation of the City of New York on behalf of John Jay College-National Network for Safe Communities.
This service contract is to provide technical assistance to the government on reducing gang violence. Data collected regarding the cause of violence in the Virgin Islands will be reviewed and used to help guide the territory’s approach and the direction of new research.
Also, the research foundation will coordinate National Network Working Sessions and Peer Exchange Workshops. These workshops will be completed over four quarters and will focus on a range of topics that will be developed to help the police with violence reduction strategies.
The Network for Safe Communities was launched in 2009 by the Center for Crime Prevention and Control at John Jay College of Criminal Justice under the direction of David Kennedy. The Network Model has shown that violence in neighborhoods can be greatly decreased using this model.
In a July letter to Senate President Neville James, Mapp vetoed what he believes is a flawed bill bill to mandate a comprehensive study of violence and public health. The bill, he said, "while well intended, is convoluted and simply, poorly written. Yes, I can sign it into law and then ignore it, but I am forced to veto it because it includes mandatory timelines for the delivery of reports. The measure as written cannot be accomplished. The Legislature provided no resources to effectuate the work and studies it is mandating. The bill states, ‘The Department of Health shall avail itself of funding made available through federal grants.’ The author of this measure cannot be serious.”
Mapp said his administration is dedicated to identifying resources, both public and private, that can be used "to help engage our youth and keep them on the path to a good education that will lead to better jobs and brighter futures to keep them off the streets." He added that a partnership with a successful program that is already getting results in fighting gang violence will go a long way to achieving these goals in the territory.