STOCKTON, CA - The city of Stockton is resurrecting an old plan to stop the shootings; Stockton police said not a single neighborhood in the city limits is untouched by violent crime.
Wednesday night, city leaders, law enforcement and church and civic organizations helped introduce "Operation Ceasefire" to a town hall of more than 100 citizens. Many in attendance said they had a relative or friend who was killed or shot in Stockton.
"One of our church member's son was killed two weeks ago and it's affected everyone here at this congregation," Stockton resident Katrina Jones said.
Operation Ceasefire was introduced by panelists Stewart Wakeling of California Partnership for Safe Communities, Rev. Jeffrey Brown of Boston's TenPoint Coalition,and Pastor Leslie Simmons of South Sacramento Christian Center. These outside organizations have had Operation Ceasefire successfully work in their communities.
Operation Ceasefire is a community-based plan to identify young criminals or troubled teens and call them in for a meeting.
"Basically, we give them a choice - either change your behavior and become a law abiding citizen or we're going to drop a house on your head," Mayor Ann Johnston said.
The clergy has already taken the lead with youth outreach and community night walks through neighborhoods. City leaders are confident this plan will work, because it worked once before years ago.
"Back in the late 90s when we had a crime spike, law enforcing partners and the community came together and it worked," Johnston said. "So when the funding went away, the program went away. Now we're bringing it back."
Operation Ceasefire will take the next six months to implement, but several organizations have shown up to Wednesday night's meeting to join the cause.
"We're very unknown, but we can connect people to different services," Partnerships for Families of San Joaquin spokesperson Amanda Merlos said. "And like they were saying, some services are already here, well, we're one of those services and we're definitely excited about this program."
Panelists said Project Ceasefire is not the silver bullet to solve all of Stockton's violent crime. They said it would take patience, partnership and persistence to work over time, but the work has already begun in the communities.
For more information on Project Ceasefire and upcoming meetings, posts can be found on Stockton Police Department's Facebook page.