The San Francisco Human Rights Commission plans to implement a new fellowship called the Dream Keeper Fellowship, a program that will pay potential felons and high-risk offenders not to shoot anyone.
As the commission’s executive director, Sheryl Davis, told Newsweek, these are “small investments” that “can transform the lives of individuals, but they can also transform communities.”
In the pilot stage of the new initiative, Dream Keeper Fellowship will pay $300 a month to 10 people who are at high risk of being on either end of a shooting to keep them from engaging in such crimes.
“It’s not necessarily as cut and dry as folks may think,” Davis explained. ” It’s not as transactional as, ‘Here’s a few dollars so that you don’t do something bad,’ but it really is about how you help us improve public safety in the neighborhood.”
The program, set to officially launch in October, will be implemented by the Human Rights Commission and the city’s Office of Economic and Workforce Development, and its funding will be included in the budget of the Dream Keeper Initiative — San Francisco’s program that works to redirect funds to the African-American community.
As Davis explained, each participant will become a “community ambassador” and will be assigned a Street Violence Intervention Program coach. In addition, some of them may be eligible to receive an additional $200 for working, studying or mediating “potentially violent situations.” As you become better, your community benefits from that,” Davis said.
Crime in San Francisco rises and people demand more police officers
Shootings have skyrocketed in the city this year, with 119 gun crime victims recorded in the first half of the year, which is double the number during the same period in 2020. According to San Francisco Chronicle reports, violent crime has continued to rise in recent months.
Moreover, according to a survey released in July by the city’s Chamber of Commerce, the vast majority of San Francisco residents believe it is a “high priority” to increase the number of police officers present in high-crime neighborhoods, while nearly half of those surveyed already plan to leave the city due to insecurity.
As part of the most important solutions, 60 % of respondents consider it a “high priority” to fund classes at the Police Academy, as well as to recruit younger personnel to replace retired officers. However, the city’s proposed solution has little to do with the San Francisco Police Department and more to do with the public budget.
The program follows a similar one in Richmond, California, called Operation Peacemaker Fellowship that was implemented after a spike in gun crime. A 2019 study published in the American Journal of Public Health linked the program to a 55 % decrease in gun homicides and a 43 % decrease in shootings since it began in 2010.
“We know that $500 in San Francisco is not a significant amount of money,” Davis said. “But if it’s enough to get you in to talk to folks, and be able to make a plan for your life, then that’s huge.”