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Mentors Trained To Stem Oakland Violence

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OAKLAND (BCN/KCBS) – Three days of training began Monday for 35 outreach workers who will try to make Oakland safer by getting potential troublemakers to stay off the streets and start leading more productive lives.

Mayor Jean Quan’s spokeswoman Sue Piper said outreach workers have made a difference by going into the neighborhoods most affected by violence and “calming the waters” by connecting “high-risk” individuals with opportunities to get out of the street life.

KCBS’ Bob Melrose Reports:

Funding for the workers is provided in part by Measure Y, an initiative passed by Oakland voters in 2004 that calls for problem-solving officers in 63 of the city’s neighborhoods and also gives money to social service programs aimed at reducing crime.

The idea behind Measure Y is that violence-prevention programs are just as important in fighting crime as aggressive policing, Piper said.

Oakland received an additional $2.2 million for the outreach workers by being one of four cities nationwide to receive a community-based violence prevention grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.

Monday morning, Quan addressed the new outreach workers as they began their training.

Piper said nine of the new workers will be sent into parts of East Oakland and the other workers will be sent to other neighborhoods deemed crime hot spots.

Oakland’s Department of Human Services serves as the central coordinating agency for the street outreach program.

The outreach workers will be employed by several Oakland-based organizations, including Healthy Oakland and California Youth Outreach.

California Youth Outreach has been conducting street outreach in Central and East Oakland since 2008.

Healthy Oakland is a health clinic in West Oakland that was founded in an effort to stem the tide of escalating violence and health disparities in Oakland’s black communities. It has been doing street outreach in West Oakland since 2004.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News contributed to this report.)

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