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$1 Million DOJ Grant To Fund Attack On Street Crime

The city of Springfield, Massachusetts has been awarded a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice to combat street crime in a high poverty neighborhood.

   Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno on Monday announced the focus of the grant will be on the city’s South End neighborhood, which has been the target of urban renewal efforts for decades and was the subject of a 2008 federal study on concentrated poverty in America.

   Although the bulk of the grant will go toward law enforcement, including training and personal, there are also funds for such things as job training, health care, housing and food assistance.

   Springfield police will work in partnership on the initiative with the Massachusetts State Police and the Hampden County Sherriff’s Department. 

Springfield Police Commissioner William Fitchet said part of the plan is to adapt counterinsurgency crime- fighting techniques pioneered by the state police in Springfield’s North End neighborhood to a small geographic area of the South End known as the Hollywood Section.

The program called “3C” policing began in Springfield’s North End neighborhood more than three years ago. It employs techniques similar to what the U.S. military uses against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan to combat street crime. The program is credited with a dramatic reduction in the neighborhood’s crime rate.

Hampden County Sherriff Michael Ashe said his agency will put support services into the program aimed at reducing recidivism rates.

Springfield received the funding from the DOJ’s Byrne Criminal Justice Innovation Program. Officials said just 14 grants were awarded from the program nationwide this year.   Massachusetts Congressman Richard Neal, a former Springfield mayor, congratulated city officials for concentrating on combating street crime.

Springfield officials say the overall crime rate in the city has come down over the last few years, but shootings and stabbings concentrated in so-called “hot spots” give the impression Springfield is a dangerous place.  

Springfield police earlier this month reactivated a special street crimes unit to target gang members.

Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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