Opinion: It’s Not about Reform or Engagement! The City of Everetts’ Youth, Gun Violence and Gang Reduction Initiative is Deceptive and Harming Our Community.

Everett – The City of Everett claims to have dedicated resources to “address youth, gang and firearm violence” and that they provide “youth-focused engagement programs, including school resource officers…”. The creation of programs like PIVOT and PAY sounds excellent on the surface, and I give them kudos for acting like they care and gaining the support of their active stakeholders.

PIVOT members include organizations such as CPS, Denney Juvenile Justice Center, Everett Police Gang Unite, Everett Police Youth Services, Everett Public Schools, Mukilteo School District, and Snohomish County Human Resources. Who is missing? Can you guess who is missing?

“To be effective, stakeholders must provide services with the knowledge that each individual and family is highly specific in their needs. PIVOT review team’s requests will be pulled from many different service organizations to provide the appropriate service on a case-by-case basis,” claims the City website. Stakeholders include organizations such as Boys and Girls Club, City of Everett, Cocoon House, Compass Mental Health, Hand in Hand Kids, Sea Mar Behavioral Health, Volunteers of America, Work Source of Snohomish County and YMCA. Who is missing from this critical group of stakeholders?

“Upon strong community partners willing to come together to support youth and families that have been identified as being at greater risk for youth gang involvement,.” ~Pathways for Adolescent Youth 

Those partners once again are the Everett Police Department, Explorer Middle School, Boys and Girls Club of Snohomish County, YMCA, Hand-in-Hand, and Cocoon House. Those who participate in the program are those who are identified by School Resource Officers primarily. However, once identified, they must agree to participate in the Strengthening Families program.

The City of Everett partnered with organizations that are feeding our youth into the straight to prison pipeline that uses schools as their hunting grounds. The fact that many are not acknowledging it for their own gain is troubling. They have also conveniently left out critical stakeholders. Actually, the most important stakeholders, those who are impacted and targeted with this problem-focused policing, local families, and youth.

City employees and community stakeholders were tasked with identifying who identifies as “at-risk” youth. They have, without public input, chosen the framework that provides alternative “pathways for Everett’s youth.” Their programs and supports (SRO’s) that focus on proactive policing and the “Broken Window Theory” is now the deciding factor to diagnose criminality in our community. The criminalization of our youth instead of the climate and culture of our neighborhoods. This will greatly impact the community. 

I applaud the City of Everett for its “white” approach to handling situations that have not been brought before the targeted population for thoughts and opinions. This puts a black eye on Juvenile Justice reform.

However, you have done more harm than good in your efforts to make “Everett citizens” feel safe. City leaders have encouraged overt bias, judgmentalism, and have made it clear that there are no repercussions for those who harm in the name of personal perception and duty. 

Keep up the good work and pray that one day, your policies and initiatives don’t bite you in the ass.