Ohio Attorney General Chief Council, Carol O’Brien

Last Friday, at Mt. Sinai Church Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost’s office hosted a round table discussion to discuss the Cleveland launch of the Ten Point Coalition. An initiative originating out of Indianapolis that, according to their site, takes a “‘boots-on-the-ground’ approach to reducing violence, increasing employment and enhancing educational achievement. ” This meeting brought together Cleveland community members across all sectors including clergy, judges, police, youth, and concerned citizens to learn more about this initiative and the potential difference it could make in the city.

First established in 1999 in Indianapolis, The Ten Point Coalition’s mission is to “reduce violence and homicide through direct engagement, the promotion of education, and the fostering of employment opportunities.” What makes the Ten Point Coalition unique to other strategies of reducing violence is the way it brings together police, businesses, the faith community, government and non-profit agencies, as well as it’s foundation of boots on the ground, and community buy-in by those that are being served.

The Ten Point Coalition members walk high crime neighborhood streets in the evening and night hours. They deescalate what could become violent situations, connect people to resources, act as a buffer between police and the community, and provide support in a crisis. This model has been shown to be so successful that it is being spread to cities across the county.

In October of 2018, the Cleveland Ten Point Coalition launched a pilot in the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood, a neighborhood that, according to SpotCrime.com, had 25 shootings and almost 100 assaults reported in just the past 6 months. The coalition has been working since it’s launch in collaboration with local faith communities, but in the meeting on Friday members expressed the need for more structure and financial resources to guarantee its success and effectiveness.

Near the Mount Pleasant neighborhood is John Adams High School. At the meeting last Friday, students from John Adams High School shared their experiences with violence within their community. One student shared that she hears gun shots in her neighborhood regularly and then comes to school and hears about friends getting killed, making her wonder if she will be next. Another student pointed out that there are many students who miss school regularly, and are most likely spending their time out on the streets. He shared that out of 160 students enrolled in their class, 56 aren’t attending.

A student from John Adams High School speaks to round table attendees.

A point made by all the students from John Adams High School who spoke was that they lack trust for new initiatives. They shared that in the past, people have come into the school and the neighborhoods and said they were going to help, but then nothing would change. The students and other speakers throughout the meeting called for the need for collaboration and to unite as a community for change to happen.

This need for unity was then confirmed as Iric Headly, Director of Fort Wayne United got up to share about the successful implementation of the Ten Point Coalition in their city. Fort Wayne United was started to address local crime and the epidemic of young black men dying by homicide that they were seeing in their city as well as across the country. This initiative provides innovative programming including late night basketball for youth and forums bringing together the African American community and local police.

The one thing that was missing, according to Iric, was a street component. So, they decided to bring Ten Point Coaltion to the Fort Wayne neighborhoods they work with. After implementation of the Ten Point Coalition for just one year, the numbers can speak for themselves. In targeted neighborhoods of high crime, Fort Wayne has seen an average decrease in violent crime by over 65%.

At the end of the round table, Carol O’Brien, chief council for Attorney General Dave Yost’s office and Michael O’Malley, the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor each spoke about their support of this initiative for Cleveland and desire to assist in any way that they could. O’Malley stated that the coalition will need a paid coordinator and they would be willing to help. The Cleveland Ten Point Coalition leadership plans to get together soon to work on the next steps of establishing organizational structure and financial resources.

relink.org is excited about the potential impact the Ten Point Coalition could have on at risk youth and communities in Cleveland. We will continue to work with the coalition as it grows to assist with connecting to resources. To learn more and see how you can get involved, relink.org.