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Youth Violence Prevention Initiative

Preventing youth violence

The Brooklyn Park Youth Violence Prevention Initiative (YVPI) is a partnership between the Police and Recreation and Parks Departments to prevent youth violence.

As part of the initiative, police officers were teamed into a Community Response Unit and a new police sub-station was built to serve the high crime area of the Zane Avenue Corridor. After school recreation activities were also offered at the Zanewood Recreation Center and the Community Activity Center, which are now hubs for recreational activities that serve more than 5,000 teens a year.  Partnerships with other youth organizations, such as the YMCA, bring in programs as well, while also coordinating the case management of juveniles who need more intense intervention strategies.

A youth development approach to reducing juvenile crime and victimization

To effectively address the epidemic of juvenile crime, the YVPI declared that Brooklyn Park must address youth violence as a development issue. The theory is that by increasing positive opportunities for young people to be engaged in quality afterschool programs, the City would see a decrease in juvenile crime and victimization. 

The initiatives objectives:

Connect every youth with a trusted adult

African American male youth workers are mentors to young people who attend after school programs at the city’s recreation centers.  They provide a safe haven for escaping street and family violence. Hundreds of recreational activities offered year round provide opportunities for youth to explore new talents, socialize with peers, work on homework and connect with adult mentors.

Brooklyn Park’s Mayor, Jeffrey Lunde, was invited to attend the Cities United conference in 2014 as part of President Obama’s launching of his initiative to curb violence among African American men and boys.  City staff from the Recreation and Parks, Administration and Police Departments also represented Brooklyn Park with the mayor.

Intervene at the first sign youth are at-risk for violence

African American male and female YMCA staff members provide one-on-one case management to youth who are referred by police, teachers or youth workers witnessing the first signs of getting off track. Many of the issues deal with school, criminal activity, family violence, fights or negative behavior.  Curfew is strictly enforced to get young people off the streets to reduce the chances they become victims of crime.

Police provide gang intervention and work to get guns off the streets and out the hands of youth. Disorderly conduct violations are down 76 percent, a good indicator for early intervention strategies.

Restore youth who have gone down the wrong path

Staff works with youth who have become involved in the juvenile justice system- showing them ways to change their path by helping connect them to supportive services, recreational opportunities or employment.

School Resource Officers (SRO) from the Police Department play a critical role in bridging kids with their families and school to stay on track to graduate. Community Resource Unit Police Officers interact with juveniles on the streets, at apartment complexes or recreation center programs, to build relationships with them while not in school.

Protect youth from violence in the community and help them unlearn the culture of violence

The YMCA’s after school “Broader Urban Involvement Leadership Development Program” (BUILD) teaches young people skills in conflict resolution, goal setting and healthy decision making.

Social workers, teachers, youth workers, and school resource officers work together to identify the most at-risk youth for the program. Young children attend after school activities and summer day camps at recreation centers.  Healthy socialization, teamwork, and fun are emphasized.  Families also benefit by participating in programs and events at the recreation center that bring adults and their children together for fun and enjoyment. 

Investing in young people is paying off

Data indicates the array of prevention programs, coupled with innovative new policing strategies is having an impact on youth violence. In the past five years crime has dropped by 39 percent and youth participation in after school activities has increased by 62 percent.

After school matters

Cities and school districts are working together to reduce the risk of young people being involved in violence. This group, called the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance (BBA) for Youth brings together public entities which share a common interest of youth in Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center. All members of the BBA provide positive youth development opportunities during after school hours. The mayors of Brooklyn Park and Brooklyn Center lead the group.

More information

Visit the Brooklyn Bridge Alliance for Youth

Contact us

Community Activity Center (Recreation and Parks Department)

5600 85th Ave. N.
Brooklyn Park, MN 55443
View map and directions to the Community Activity Center

Summer hours

Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m.
Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday and Sunday, closed unless we have a scheduled event or activity
Hours may vary based on events and activities.

Phone and email

Jan Ficken
Email Jan Ficken

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