NPS faculty try to map a course for peace in Salinas.
Thursday, February 4, 2010
M ilitary professors at the Naval Postgraduate School have helped craft three potential battle plans for Salinas to pursue peace. In military speak, the “courses of action” include the status quo (which is not working), Ceasefire (which is already underway) and a proposal for police to work with social service providers to earn trust in gang-plagued neighborhoods, says Deputy Police Chief Manny Perrien. The third approach, regionalized community policing, is not completely new to Salinas, but Perrien says the results could change the code of silence permeating city streets.
“Insurgencies or gangs exist in neighborhoods or communities [that] let them exist. They are tolerated,” he says. “Regionalized community policing is designed to change those environmental factors that allow gangs to flourish.”
Perrien says police personnel and NPS’s team of counterterrorism and counterinsurgency experts developed the draft plans, which still have to be vetted by Mayor Dennis Donohue, Chief Louis Fetherolf and stakeholder group Community Alliance for Safety and Peace, among others.
“We were the facilitators, but all of this is their idea,” NPS Professor Hy Rothstein says. “This is going to be something they develop.”
Rothstein says his team will assess the different options in coming weeks, and Donohue will have the final choice. Rothstein acknowledges Salinas has an extremely tough task, and unlike the federal government, cannot run a deficit to fight a war: “There are limited resources, and they need to be deployed with a degree of specificity.”
The community-policing model is similar to CAPSTONE (City at Peace: Supporting and Transforming Our Neighborhood), launched in 2008. The city dropped it because residents didn’t provide grassroots support, police say.
Mapping out military moves for the county’s local war zone is the latest step in NPS’s involvement with Salinas, a relationship launched a year ago with backing from Rep. Sam Farr and NPS Provost Leonard Ferrari. So far, NPS students have written a thesis examining the environmental factors that foster gang violence and, according to Fetherolf, helped fill in a critical gap: the lack of criminal analysis. “They’ve given us data and we’ve been able to use that,” he says.
Michael Freeman, who teaches international terrorism and terrorist finance, says his grad students will have the option of doing a thesis on the city’s gang violence: “Salinas winds up being sort of a laboratory for this research.”