Cities across the United States struggle with gang violence, and the challenge can sometimes seem hopeless. But you may be surprised to learn that we know a lot about how to reduce gang violence — often dramatically. We just have to act on what we know.
Our guest this time is an expert on the subject, from a small but innovative California city: Salinas.
If you know about Salinas, it may be because your vegetables come from the Salinas Valley, sometimes called the Salad Bowl of the World. Maybe you know that John Steinbeck was born there. Or maybe you’ve visited, and enjoyed the scenery, the nearly perfect weather, and the charming old downtown.
What you may not know is that this rural town of 150,000 has a big-city gang problem. But it’s also a national leader in taking an innovative, evidence-based approach to reducing the violence, by dealing with it as a public health problem — one that can be prevented.
The strategy in Salinas brings together law enforcement, social service agencies, nonprofits, the faith community, and anyone else who wants to make a difference in a county-wide group called the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, or CASP.
The director of CASP is Jose Arreola, who is also the Community Safety Administrator for the City of Salinas. (Disclosure: the City of Salinas is a client of Boots Road Group, the producer of Dastardly Cleverness.)
José Alfonso Arreola is the City of Salinas Community Safety Administrator and Director of the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace. He was born and raised in San Diego, California. José graduated from San José State University.
He co-founded and was the founding Principal at Downtown College Preparatory Alviso, a middle school in North San José, California.
Prior to joining the City of Salinas, José was the Education Specialist and Extensions Coordinator for the Boys and Girls Clubs of Monterey County. He currently serves as the Millennium Charter High School Board President.
José is also the site coordinator for Salinas‘s participation in the Government Alliance on Racial Equity, California Cities Violence Prevention Network and the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention.