What To Know Today

An NYPD captain’s unconventional approach to gun violence reduction. Last year, 61st Precinct commanding officer Derby St. Fort launched a hyperlocal approach to try to stave off a spiraling conflict in Brooklyn’s Sheepshead Bay neighborhood. The idea is fairly straightforward: Using police intel and a partnership with local anti-violence workers, he recruited 15 young people deemed at risk of becoming involved in gun violence to participate in group therapy. Participants receive a $150 stipend. In four months of weekly sessions, none of the original attendees have been arrested with a gun or involved in a shooting, St. Fort said. “We can address gun violence differently than what we’re doing,” he told The New York Times. “We can have direct contact with the kids who are involved.” Experts are hopeful such programs will scale, but acknowledge that it’s still too early to judge effectiveness.

A leading advocate for community-led violence intervention is joining the Biden administration. Eddie Bocanegra, the director of the anti-violence initiative READI Chicago at the Heartland Alliance, was named senior adviser for community violence intervention in the Office of Justice Programs at the U.S. Department of Justice. Bocanegra has been an instrumental leader in getting non-law enforcement approaches to violence reduction more national recognition and resources. “I see this opportunity as our president and our current government walking the walk when they talk about criminal justice reform,” he told The Chicago Tribune after his appointment. “This is a part of it, they are allowing someone like me to be in this space.”

Philly now has an official victims’ advocate. Adara L. Combs, who has worked for years in the District Attorney’s Office, will lead the body specifically focused on helping gun violence victims navigate the complex and labyrinthine world of victims’ assistance. “Nothing is more frustrating than not knowing a service is available to you until you no longer need it, or until you’re so frustrated that you don’t even want to use it,” Combs told WHYY. Up the Block: Our resource hub for Philadelphians highlights organizations providing resources to those affected by gun violence. “Heaven: Can You Hear Me?” The new documentary, which recently had its national TV debut, focuses on a community of women and advocates in Philadelphia working to find solutions to the gun violence crisis. 

Missouri Supreme Court hears challenge to controversial state gun law. The state’s Second Amendment Preservation Act essentially prohibits Missouri police from enforcing federal gun restrictions and allows the state to fine police agencies $50,000 if their officers violate the statute. Local law enforcement officers say the law has already hindered investigations. Shortly after it passed, officials from St. Louis city and county, as well as Kansas City, sued the state, arguing that the law hindered work with federal law enforcement task forces. On Monday, the state’s highest court heard their case. A separate municipal effort against the law with the support of around 60 Missouri police chiefs is still going through the lower courts

A second person in the alleged plot to kidnap the Michigan governor will plead guilty. Kaleb Franks plans to plead guilty to kidnapping conspiracy, according to a new court filing. Crucially, the 27-year-old also agreed to cooperate with the feds to help rebut claims made by other alleged plotters that undercover FBI agents had entrapped the accused men. In spring 2020, Franks allegedly connected through a Facebook firearms group with other men said to be involved in anti-government and militia circles, after which he went through a vetting process, meetings, and training.

Data Point

More than $230 million — the amount the Air Force must pay to the families of the victims of the 2017 shooting at Sutherland Springs First Baptist Church, in which a former airman killed 26 people. A federal judge ruled that the Air Force was partially culpable for not submitting the perpetrator’s criminal history into a database that would have blocked him from legally buying the guns used in the shooting. [Ruling of U.S. District Court Judge Xavier Rodriguez]