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By Will Richmond
Herald News Staff Reporter
Posted Nov 13, 2008 @ 05:27 PM

Fall River -

Attempts to combat gang-related violence have been boosted by a state grant.
The Massachusetts Executive Office of Public Safety announced the recipients of the Senator Charles E. Shannon Community Safety Initiative grant program, which included a $750,000 allocation to Fall River. The award is an increase from the $370,000 provided to the city last year.
In all, $12.4 million was awarded to 17 programs in 39 cities and towns. The allocations are $2 million more than the previous fiscal year.
Police Chief John M. Souza said the increased funding shows the city is putting forth a strong application and putting the money received to good use.
"We have been fortunate to have had access to these funds in the past two years and have utilized them to put resources into the community for gang intervention and crime suppression," Souza said. "We were level-funded last year in a total amount of $370,000 even after I received notice that our application was among the best in the state. It appears that the Executive Office of Public Safety again felt that we had an excellent application and we set forth very worthwhile programs for the utilization of these funds, and gave us a substantial increase."
Souza said the Police Department's share of the funding is more than $150,000, an increase of more than $35,000 from last year.
"In these fiscally challenging times I am encouraged that the Patrick administration felt that this is a much-needed and important program for our cities in keeping our citizens safe as well as providing integral community services," Souza said.
City Administrator Adam Chapdelaine said the additional funding allows the city to expand the program to nine more organizations above the 10 already using Shannon Grant funds.
Those groups include the Bristol County District Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department, Community Development Recreation, Fall River YMCA, Family Service Association of Greater Fall River, MyTurn, SMILES, United Neighbors of Fall River and Fall River School Department Athletics.
"The city is ecstatic the Executive Office of Public Safety recognized the great job the Shannon Grant operation has done in Fall River," Chapdelaine said. "We are very happy with the increased allocation and the opportunity to expand offerings to youths involved or partially involved in gangs."
Youth Services Director Christian McCloskey said the key to the program will be establishing collaboration among all of the funded organizations.
"We are really excited by the big increase and the opportunity to bring more people to the table through a multidisciplinary, comprehensive operation," McCloskey said. This will allow us to provide more services to youth by pulling everyone together and having a big effect."
Past uses of the Shannon Grant include the formation of a Youth Street Outreach team, which put young adults in a position to respond to youths in their own neighborhoods who are looking to avoid joining gangs or being involved in criminal activity.
Michael Kane, an assistant program manager with the Crime and Justice Institute who aided in the city's grant application, said the allocation is a good sign that Fall River is making the most of its funding.
"The increased funding is good for Fall River to bring new partners on board and improve upon the initial efforts made by the city," Kane said.
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