PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — With gun violence spiking in the city of Pittsburgh and a long, hot summer ahead, Mayor Ed Gainey is set to announce his plans for action.
Police have long maintained that a small group of criminals is responsible for the vast majority of violent crimes. Gainey's plan would target that violent few. People like Ronald Steave, who is accused of killing three people on New Year's Eve. He is also suspected in at least two other homicides.
Later this week, the mayor will announce a plan to get people like him off the streets before they commit other violent acts — something called "focused deterrence."
"Focus deterrence identifies the small number of extremely violent individuals whose activities are the catalysts for most of the violence in our streets," Gainey said.
It's a strategy being employed in cities across the nation, and it involves reaching out to these violent people and offering them a choice — a carrot as well as a stick.
"If they don't stop the gun violence, every effort will be used by criminal justice levers to take them off the street," said University of Pittsburgh professor David Harris. "But if they do want to stop this violent activity, they will be offered other kinds of support, anything that they might need."
Harris, a member of Mayor Gainey's Community Health and Safety Transition Team, said instead of prosecution, probation restrictions and jail, the suspect can opt for a new life.
"Do you need a place to live?" Harris said. "Do you need further job training or education? Do you need a job?"
Critics might say this is coddling criminals and rewarding them for bad behavior, but Gainey said other tactics have not worked. The mayor praised KDKA-TV's recent finding that traffic stops are down more than 50 percent in the city and about 70 percent in neighborhoods of color.
The mayor said "focused deterrence" are targeted while other approaches unfairly round up innocent people.
"This approach will also allow to attack the root cause without repeating the mistakes of the past that swept up non-violent actors while often failing to apprehend the key perpetrators," Gainey said.
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