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Stockton's Office of Violence Prevention provides update to city council as homicides cases increase

Data from the Office of Violence Prevention shows that in the past 90 days, the department has mediated in five conflicts.

STOCKTON, Calif. — As homicide detectives in Stockton continue to search for answers in 16 different homicide cases reported so far in 2022, the city's Office of Violence Prevention is also working around the clock in hopes of preventing the next one. 

During a Tuesday night Stockton City Council meeting, representatives with the Office of Violence Prevention gave an update to council members which included statistics on their work in the past year.

The Office of Violence Prevention, funded by the city of Stockton, uses crime data to investigate and thwart gang-related and gun-related violence in the city. Since 1998, the office has used "Peacekeepers" to identify and mentor those considered at high risk of becoming victims or perpetrators of gun violence. 

"We have a pretty robust and mature crime prevention and crime-fighting model and strategy that we adhere to," Harry Black, Stockton's City Manager said during an interview with ABC10 Tuesday. 

According to the Office of Violence Prevention, while homicide cases overall dropped in 2021, their peacekeepers were still kept busy preventing possible conflicts and responding to 71 different shooting scenes in the city.

Throughout 2021, peacekeepers mediated in 24 conflicts which resulted in 251 follow-ups to offer referral services for those involved. 

Some of those referral services included employment, housing assistance, social services, mental health services, DMV help, cognitive behavior classes, educational opportunities and family relocations. 

137 people were offered employment services through the Office of Violence Prevention in 2021 making it the most wide-reaching service provided by the office, data shows. The second service most frequently used by participants is DMV help which includes help getting IDs and Driver Licenses.

RELATED: Stockton's rise in gun violence sparks community-wide 'prayer for peace'

In 2021, 17 of the office's 118 clients were re-arrested giving the program a recidivism rate of less than 15%.

According to the office, the typical client demographic is 18-35-year-old high school dropouts who are unemployed, have unstable housing, are unable to eat daily and have untreated trauma. The office reports that they are working with 17 "very high-risk youth" between the ages of 14 and 17. 

As of Wednesday, officers in the city of Stockton have reported 16 homicide cases so far in 2022. According to the Office of Violence Prevention's report, presented Tuesday, the office has responded to 19 shootings since the start of the year and conducted emergency relocation for four people. 

"Our Office of Violence Prevention, they're out there doing what they do. Their focus is on intervention and prevention and really covering the communities in the neighborhoods where some of the activity is occurring," Black said. "Working with community organizations, working with families as well as working with the victims."

Peacekeepers have mediated in five conflicts, attended 20 community events, communicated with 14 high-risk people and added 14 new cases since the start of the year, officials with the office say.

"Our Office of Violence Prevention resources, they're out there in these neighborhoods, they're working with these families in every way possible," Black said. "The best way to deal with crime is that collaborative interaction with government, the community and the families in terms of helping them to get through it while at the same time, working towards preventing any additional griefs or tragedies."

Watch more on crime in Stockton from ABC10: Stockton City Manager Harry Black talks recent crime in the city | Extended Interview

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