The Aboriginal Gang Reduction and Exit Strategies initiative has four core pillars: education/awareness; intelligence collection; enforcement; and exit strategies for individuals leaving “the life,” i.e., the gang lifestyle. The 5 Cs—community, communication, cooperation, coordination and cohesion—are integral to the implementation of these pillars. Some of the strategic directions and actions peripherally impact Aboriginal communities while some are explicitly focused on Aboriginal communities.The education and awareness pillar serves to educate and increase the awareness of both Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and community members, regarding gang activities and their ramifications, as well as prevention and management strategies related to this lifestyle. Educating RCMP members will help them to ensure their safety, increase communication between detachments about gang members and activities, increase the skill of officers dealing directly with the local gangs, and raise public awareness. RCMP 'K' Division's Aboriginal Policing Services (APS) Unit joined the Alberta Gang Reduction Network and has since followed up with this network. This network has a group of approximately 30 organizations from across the province working together to share information and trends related to Aboriginal gangs. APS attended the gang symposium for the Alberta Gang Reduction Network in October 2013 to share ideas with communities.The initiatives related to intelligence and enforcement pillars are generally targeted at law enforcement and how best to share information and tackle gangs in the community. The exit strategies pillar focuses on the development and identification of effective exit and intervention strategies (and in some cases, prevention programming). Briefly, this includes identifying persons who are at high risk of joining the gang lifestyle and providing alternate options; identifying existing exit strategies and tailoring them to Aboriginal culture; working closely with communities to ensure appropriate programs; identifying support resources in detachment areas; and partnering with external agencies wherever possible.APS members continue to meet and educate organizations such as YOUCAN, Native Counselling Services, and Corrections. APS is also meeting with the provincial and federal governments to discuss various funding options for programming and resources.
To educate and mobilize Aboriginal communities so they take ownership and be part of Aboriginal Gang Reduction and Exit Strategies.
'K' Division Aboriginal Policing Services (APS) Unit
Darrel R. BrunoDarrel.email@example.com
This is a three-year project targeting seven Aboriginal community pilot sites. The project will expand to other Aboriginal communities and could be expanded beyond three years, should additional funding be made available.
This initiative was undertaken as result of the proliferation of Aboriginal gangs in Alberta. APS is continuing to build a network of outside resources, programs and agencies to address addictions, training, employment skills, education and support for those looking to leave the gang lifestyle.
To date, the program has received $250,000 in funding: $150,000 from Alberta civil forfeiture and $100,000 from Alberta’s Safe Communities Innovation Fund (SCIF). The funding is used to support local organizations that are directly involved in helping to prevent Aboriginal youth from joining gangs or in supporting those who are leaving a gang.
The initiative was launched through an integrated, comprehensive and sustainable approach with community presentations, education and mobilizing of Aboriginal communities.
Communities have bought into this concept by setting up task forces and taking ownership of the initiatives.Additionally, the APS Unit produced a research report on potential models that support female gang members/associates exiting the gang lifestyle. For example, the report identifies the Girls & Gangs Project in Los Angeles and the STR8UP program in Saskatoon as best practices that support these young women in changing their lives.
Following the workshops or presentations, both the participants and the community organization are asked to complete an assessment. This has allowed the APS Unit to gather evaluative data for their Gang Reduction Strategy. This is a work in progress, with the summary of outcomes to be presented at a later date.
The importance of continuing to engage the communities by maintaining relationships and trust is key in this initiative.