The Violence Intervention & Community Services Unit (VICS), formerly known as the Mayor’s Gang Prevention Initiative, was established in 2006. It is a comprehensive multidimensional community engagement and violence reduction strategy under the umbrella of the Fresno Police Department. With the ever changing community issues the unit’s goal is to respond to the fluctuating needs of the community by providing high-quality engagement, and services to the diverse population of Fresno.
Violence Intervention & Community Engagement
The objective is to minimize violence in our community by increasing collaborative efforts and provide support for our youth and families through partnerships.
In an effort to reduce the amount of gang-related crime throughout the City of Fresno, the unit incorporates the following violence reduction and community engagement strategies and core components.
- Services Referrals: The VICS staff facilitates direct services to eligible individuals identified in needs intake to existing local community agencies that focus on prevention, intervention, rehabilitation, and economic development. This coordinated approach through grassroots organizing and public/private partnerships, allow the VICS to reinforce local best practices. Service providers meet on a quarterly basis. These programs include needs intake, job training, job placement, employment referrals, substance abuse, anger management, mental health, education, food, housing, mentoring, dental, vision, medical, mentoring, youth activities, tattoo removal and other basic life skill services.To be eligible for VICS assistance, an individual:
- Must reside within the City of Fresno.
- Must have a direct tie to a gang (validated, associate or “wanna-be”) and desire to voluntarily leave the gang lifestyle.
- Identify as a Human Trafficking victim.
- Cannot have pending warrants and/or court cases.
- Cannot be a registered sex offender nor have disqualifying offenses as determined by VICS.
- VICS Advisory Board: Board members meet on a quarterly base throughout the city. Members include representatives from local law enforcement, juvenile & adult criminal justice system, education, health, community member, faith community and social services entities. The Advisory Board evaluates emerging trends that address the gang population, facilitate interagency collaboration, troubleshooting, and assist where possible in the progression of the VICS unit strategies, including the review of current, future and potential resource opportunities.
A variety of federal, state and private foundation grants, violence reduction and community engagement projects are administered and supported by VICS. Projects include community outreach and engagement efforts as follows:
- Tattoo Removal: In collaboration with local Fresno County Economic Opportunities Commission clinic, treatment is offered to VICS enrolled participants demonstrating a sincere commitment to change their lives. Visible gang related and or human trafficking brand tattoos may inhibit their ability to gain employment or transition into a healthier lifestyle. Participants receive treatment in exchange for performing community service.
- Community Outreach & Engagement: Bringing Broken Neighborhoods Back to Life goal is to build bridges of resources to community residents living in neighborhoods directly affected by gang violence. The objective is to host community events in gang infested neighborhoods during the spring and summer months. This community collaboration of service providers, FPD, and faith-based organizations meet 40 times a year every Tuesday planning events within the southern part of the city.
- Hispanic Residents Academy: The primary purpose of the Hispanic Residents Academy (H.R.A.) is to better acquaint Spanish-speaking community members with how the Fresno Police Department works and resource services available to the public. In collaboration with the Fresno Unified School District Parent University Program the H.R.A. is a mobile academy conducted twice a year within the community in each policing district. Participants have the opportunity to dialogue with academy instructors who include Officers, Detectives, Sergeants, Lieutenants, Captains and Deputy Chiefs. All participating residents make a commitment of 13 consecutive weeks, one day a week for two hours. Instructors provide an overview of various units and the responsibilities within the FPD. All classes are conducted in Spanish, and at times, using translation equipment. Daycare is also provided as needed.
If you would like more information you can call the VICS hotline at (559) 621-2353 or Email at [email protected]