CeaseFire group preparing to meet offenders

Jason Addy
  • CeaseFire York aims to reduce gun violence through cooperation with law enforcement, the community and violent offenders.
  • Jim Tice, the initiative's coordinator, said the group will likely hold its first meeting with offenders this month.
  • Offenders will be told to "put the guns down" and offered social services to help keep them out of prison.

After months of planning and training, officials in York City are close to starting “the intervention on gun violence.”

Jim Tice, coordinator for the CeaseFire York initiative, said the group is nearing its first “call-in” session, where violent offenders who have been identified through police work and social services will attend a moderated community meeting.

Jim Tice, coordinator for York City's Group Violence Intervention initiative

At this meeting, offenders will be “put on notice for the next shooting,” Tice said, with the group of police, city officials and community organizations telling the offenders — who also will act as messengers for others — to “put the guns down, the violence has to stop.”

Offenders will be offered 24-hour outreach and support services as a “clear message from the community that we want participants to be safe and (stay) out of prison,” he said.

“We’re telling them to stop, because if you don’t, this is what’s going to happen. Along with that is an offer of support services if you need them,” including assistance with housing, food and job training, Tice said.

CeaseFire veterans: York needs patience, commitment

The first “call-in” will likely happen sometime this month, with subsequent meetings taking place every few months, Tice said.

While in New York for training alongside other coordinators from Los Angeles; Jacksonville, Florida; and Chattanooga, Tennessee, among other cities, Tice said he learned that CeaseFire York is slightly ahead of schedule after its first six months.

“One of the great things about York is that we’ve got a lot of resources and that everybody is on the same page,” Tice said, noting the cooperation between York City Mayor Kim Bracey’s administration, the York City Police Department, the York County District Attorney and Adult Probation offices and other community members and organizations.

CeaseFire York is a three-year “group-violence intervention” program meant to reduce gun violence and shootings with a holistic approach.

York City mayor, chief present CeaseFire to council

The city has contracted with nationally renowned criminologist David M. Kennedy’s National Network for Safe Communities for the CeaseFire initiative.

At a York City Council meeting in August, Bracey said the majority of the $300,000 funding for the contract with the network had been secured through private sources, while the city would pursue grants and other funding sources to cover the rest.

Bracey was unavailable Thursday to comment on the status of the funding.

The initiative is based on the idea that a very small number of people in any city are perpetrating the vast majority of violent crimes, so to cut down on violent crime, law enforcement must identify and target that small percentage of people, according to the network.

Law enforcement officials work with social services and community partners to identify and “call in” violent offenders to a moderated meeting, often using the probation department or some other immediate threat of arrest to ensure their participation.

Unlike a “static,” one-time program, the CeaseFire York initiative to reduce gun violence and shootings is meant to evolve and change as officials learn what resources they will need at each step, Tice said.

“This is not a program. Programs stop,” Tice said. “We want this to become a way of doing business.”