A number of key stakeholders and partners have been identified who have proactively taken significant notice to the upstart of a new gang initiative in Pine Bluff.
Gangs and public attention to senseless violence resulting in several murders has been heightened in our community. In response to an increase in gang related crimes and acknowledging that as a community arresting its way out of the gang problem isn’t the answer, the Gang Reduction Initiative of Pine Bluff (G.R.I.P.) was formed.
The committee, headed by Jefferson County Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr., serving as chairman, in collaboration with Vice-Chairman Honorable Judge Earnest Brown, Jr., Pine Bluff School Superintendent Barbara Warren, the Pine Bluff Police Department, Sixth Division Circuit Court Eleventh Judicial District-West, and 15 other partners held its first meeting in October 2020. The committee was designed to coalesce resources to address violent gang activity in Pine Bluff and Jefferson County. An assessment and planning process were launched from which a gang-reduction strategic plan i s being established.
This collaboration will be utilizing the federal Office of Juvenile Justice Delinquency Prevention’s (OJJDP) evidence-based Comprehensive Gang Model (CGM) to guide its efforts. It is designed to significantly reduce the increase of gang crime and combat the uptick in violence in the community. This initiative is a comprehensive, multi-faceted approach that navigates the entire criminal justice continuum. By adhering to this model and utilizing its strategies in developing the plan, stakeholders are better positioned to deal holistically with its gang issues and secure funding to implement the plan’s programs.
G.R.I.P. will focus on anti-gang and violence-reduction strategies to improve the quality of life and make Pine Bluff a safer place to live for residents. The initiative has a three-prong approach involving prevention, intervention, and suppression. With the implementation of the program, the community acknowledges the gang problem and understands it’s not just a local law enforcement issue but a community-wide endeavor aimed at fostering partnerships, improving safety, and reducing fear among residents.
“As part of the effort to fight back against gang violence, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office has and continues to make available any and all resources to assist in not only improving coordination among law enforcement agencies, but that could also strengthen ongoing investigations of Murder Gang, Murder MOB, and E.B.K.”, Sheriff Lafayette Woods, Jr. said. “The epidemic of gang violence that is currently threatening our communities is absolutely unacceptable – it is critical that we make clear that it will not be tolerated. We all share a common interest and that is to improve public safety within our community. As such, we must all work together to fight these senseless acts of violence and I want each current, past, or future gang member to know that we are working alongside many key stakeholders in a full-scale effort to eradicate this violence from our community once and for all.”
See the video below for the press conference announcing the G.R.I.P. initiative.