Unprecedented Youth Collaborative Launches in Detroit Law Enforcement, Detroit Public Schools and Community Partners to Address Truancy

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Operation Safe Passage (OSP), a unique new collaborative to combat truancy and juvenile crime, launched today in Northwest Detroit. Deputy Mayor Saul Green and Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr., were joined by Thomas Brandon, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; Craig W. Schwartz, Executive Deputy Chief of Police for Detroit Public Schools; Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon; other federal, state and local law enforcement officials and several community partners to announce the initiative. OSP’s mission is to combat juvenile crime and truancy and positively influence children to stay in school, and the program is beginning as a pilot focused on the Northwest area of Detroit. The area was chosen because it is a focus of Mayor Dave Bing’s Youth Violence Prevention Plan; and it is also an area where a federal, state and local law enforcement collaborative called CVRP (Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership), has been working on an ongoing basis.

"Our goal is to fortify bridges of collaboration with law enforcement agencies, citizens, community and faith based organizations in efforts to keep our youth safe.” said Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr. “Working together is essential, but parental involvement

Operation Safe Passage (OSP), a unique new collaborative to combat truancy and juvenile crime, launched today in Northwest Detroit. Deputy Mayor Saul Green and Police Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr., were joined by Thomas Brandon, Special Agent in Charge of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives; Craig W. Schwartz, Executive Deputy Chief of Police for Detroit Public Schools; Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon; other federal, state and local law enforcement officials and several community partners to announce the initiative. OSP’s mission is to combat juvenile crime and truancy and positively influence children to stay in school, and the program is beginning as a pilot focused on the Northwest area of Detroit. The area was chosen because it is a focus of Mayor Dave Bing’s Youth Violence Prevention Plan; and it is also an area where a federal, state and local law enforcement collaborative called CVRP (Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership), has been working on an ongoing basis.

In 2010, the Detroit Police Department apprehended 12,414 youth and young adults for criminal activity and during the 2009-2010 school year, Detroit Public Schools reported nearly 29,000 suspensions. "Our goal is to fortify bridges of collaboration with law enforcement agencies, citizens, community and faith based organizations in efforts to keep our youth safe.” said Chief Ralph L. Godbee, Jr. “Working together is essential, but parental involvement and adult guidance will also play a major part in reducing violence amongst youth.” While Executive Deputy Chief Schwartz added “Our youth benefit when the community steps up and exhibits positive behavior for them to model and positive activities for them to participate in. Operation Safe Passage is a program that supports our district plan to retain students and improve the graduation rate.”

Operation Safe Passage’s first order of business has been to execute a series of truancy sweeps in the current school year. The first truancy sweep was held on April 7 and resulted in 63 truant students being detained. A total of 42 students were processed at the Northwestern Police Precinct and 21 student were processed at Henry Ford High School. ATF Special Agent in Charge Brandon said, “ATF’s G.R.E.A.T., (Gang Resistance Education and Training), program is one of the best prevention programs we have to help change negative behavior such as truancy and provide youth with productive and constructive ways to stay involved, engaged, in school, and resist gang life and gang culture altogether.” Operation Safe Passage will work to ensure students who are at risk or facing suspension are not spending that time idly, but instead are spending time with positive alternatives, such as community service including cleaning up school yards. "Alternatives to expulsion are important to reducing youth violence," U.S. Attorney Barbara McQuade said. "Just removing troubled kids from schools and putting them on the streets solves one problem but creates another. Operation Safe Passage will achieve the dual goals of keeping schools safe while helping at-risk kids get back on the right path."

During the 2011-2012 school year, OSP will implement such preventative measures as mentoring, conflict resolution and mediation, civilian patrols and expansion of the ATF’s G.R.E.A.T program to reach more youth. Community partners who are supporting the mission include Pastor Henry McClendon, who will teach restorative practices in participating schools to help instill a less punitive, and more productive culture; Reverend Larry Simmons and Executive Director Kirk Mayes of Brightmoor Alliance, and the Grandmont Rosedale Neighborhood Association will offer after-school programs and opportunities for community service; and Bishop Edgar Vann, founder of M.A.D.E. (Men Affirming Discipline and Education) Men and Goodwin Consulting will elevate awareness, recruit, perform background checks and train volunteer men and women to act as civilian safety patrols, mentors and mediators.

The Operation Safe Passage Task Force is comprised of members of the federal, state and local Comprehensive Violence Reduction Partnership including the Detroit Police Department, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives, Wayne County Sheriff’s Office, Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office, Michigan State Police and the United States Attorney’s Office. OSP also consists of the Detroit Public Schools Attendance Office, in addition to the community partners referenced above.

Sgt. Eren Stephens, Detroit Police Department
313.596.2200
Senior Special Agent Donald Dawkins
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives
313.202.3578 and 313.407.6018 cellular
Peggy Goodwin, APR
313.556.2020 and 248.376.0390 cellular

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Peggy K. Goodwin

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