Editorial – Operation Ceasefire can put offenders on the right path
Published 5:30 pm Tuesday, April 18, 2023
Commonwealth Attorney Narendra R. Pleas’ timing for a new program looking to address the increase in Suffolk’s violent crimes couldn’t be better.
The city continues to see a rise in gun violence and criminal activity despite police adapting their methods and adding new technology to assist them.
Operation Ceasefire is a welcome addition to the mix as it looks to bring prosecutors, law enforcement agencies and community organizations together in a “collaborative, focused-deterrence program.”
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We like Pleas’ approach that provides those who find themselves in trouble a second chance. And just that, not a third, fourth, fifth or sixth one.
Suffolk’s Operation Ceasefire operates differently compared to past programs by steering a person away from criminal activity.
“Ours focuses on deterring behavior before we get to the point where we have negative consequences,” Pleas said in announcing the program Thursday, April 13. “We are trying to stem individuals away from the tide of increased violence that we’re seeing by offering alternatives, or for some people not just alternatives, but perhaps a launching pad for them to be successful in other ways that they weren’t before.”
The program rightly acknowledges that a lot of crime stems from lack of education, resources and treatment for some people.
“If we can get in and deter those people before they get connected to the criminal activity, then that makes them a better person, that makes their families better, that makes our communities better and safer,” she said.
Pleas is correct when she says prosecutors are not just there to lock up criminals. They can play a vital role in getting people back on the right path.
Operations Ceasefire Prosecutor Amanda Abbey is a welcome addition to Pleas’ team with experience and knowledge she brings to the new position, funded through a two-year $326,500 state grant.
Pleas and Abbey will not only be working with those in the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s office and the city’s law enforcement agencies, they have commitments from community partners in areas such as education, substance abuse treatment and mental health resources.
With its intelligence-based methodology, Operation Ceasefire provides a directed “cease and desist” message to those engaged in activities known to lead them on to violent crimes. Plus it works with a zero tolerance approach.
Those in the program will have support with their education issues, job skills, substance abuse issues, mental health issues, or any others the community can assist them with so they can become productive members of the community, Abbey explained. If they do not take this avenue that is presented to them and they choose to continue instigating and victimizing the community of Suffolk, she said Operation Ceasefire is going to focus on them until they stop committing crime or they have been removed from the community.
To work, the program needs our support.
Suffolk residents, businesses, churches and community organizations now have the opportunity to join with Pleas and Abbey in changing these first-time offenders’ lives by getting them on the right path.
“We want them to be successful, productive citizens in the community and we are going to offer them this one opportunity and assist them in becoming productive citizens within our communities,” Abbey said Thursday.
If given the opportunity to lend your support to Operation Ceasefire as it begins its work, lend a hand to help those find their way to become productive residents of our city with the chance to improve their lives and their neighbors.