ACCESS 2009-2010 Summary: Gang Prevention and Intervention

Austin Community Collaboration to Enhance Student Success (ACCESS) first funded a gang specialist school resource officer (SRO) in Fall 2007 to decrease gang activity on campuses and to educate students, parents, and community members about gangs. The ACCESS-funded gang detective is a member of the Joint Juvenile Gang Intervention Unit (JJGIU), along with another detective from the Austin Independent School District (AISD) Police Department, and two detectives and a gang prevention coordinator from the Austin Police Department. The JJGIU was formed in response to a Joint Steering Committee on Gang Activity recommendation in 2006, and added prevention and intervention efforts to law-enforcement gang suppression work. As part of the JJGIU, the gang detective made presentations to elementary, middle, and high school students and parents and taught the Gang Resistance Education and Training (G.R.E.A.T.) program to 4th-grade students. She also worked with campus administrators and SROs to add proactive strategies to what was, before the JJGIU, a mostly reactive program focused on discipline referrals.

Since 2007–2008, students’ reports of gang activity at both middle schools and high schools have declined, reversing a trend of increased reports of gang activity in the years preceding the JJGIU’s prevention efforts. In addition, both actual incidents and perceptions of gang activity among middle school students and staff declined from 2008–2009 to 2009–2010. The decrease in incidents and perceptions of gang activity was greater among middle school students, who had more opportunity to experience the JJGIU’s prevention efforts, than it was among high school students.