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County Probation Officers Instrumental
In Keeping the Peace
Among Gang Associates Following Shooting Death
to right: BMC-Dorchester First
Assistant Chief Probation Officer
Michael Branch, Suffolk County
Probation Regional Supervisor
Mark McHale, BMC-West Roxbury Chief Mark Prisco, and
BMC-Roxbury Chief Probation Officer Anthony Gully.
County Chief and Assistant Chief Probation
Officers played a key role in an effort
to stop the bloodshed on the streets
of Boston when they brought rival gang
associates together recently during
a series of meetings to promote peace
and discourage retaliation following
the shooting death of a young man.
intervention effort is called Operation
Cease Fire, a partnership program between
Probation and Boston Police established
in 1996 to staunch gun and gang violence.
It features representatives from law
enforcement who issue stern warnings
to the young men and inform them of
the state and federal sentences they
may incur if they continue to flout
the law. Also, individuals from community
and human services groups introduce
the young men to resources available
to them if they want to turn their
Fire relies heavily on Probation Officers
who are well acquainted with the young
men, their families, social backgrounds
and community ties to bring the rivals
to the table to push for a peaceful
resolution. Another component of Cease
Fire is Operation Nite Lite, a Probation-established
program which pairs police with Probation
on night visits to offenders' homes.
Probation Officers Mark Prisco of BMC-West
Roxbury, and Anthony Gully of BMC-Roxbury,
and First Assistant Chief Probation
Officer Michael Branch of BMC-Dorchester
dispatched Probation Officers to the
homes of known gang associates who
are on probation and those who have
been court-involved in the past to
direct them to attend the meetings
where representatives from the U.S.
Attorney’s Office, District Attorney’s
Office, Boston Police Department, Boston
Public School Police, local clergy,
and community street workers are present.
meeting was a rapid response to the
shooting. If it weren't for the involvement
of Probation, it would be almost impossible
to identify those intimately involved
with this situation and bring them
together so quickly," said Prisco. "We
are the key to the whole process. We
are the ones who bring them (young
Assistant Chief Probation Officer Branch,
one of the Cease Fire presenters, imparts
a poignant message to the young men
at the sessions. He speaks of how two
lives are lost when there is a shooting
death: the murder victim and the shooter.
The purpose of Cease Fire, Branch said
is rapid response.
like to get into their heads when they
are hot-tempered and while they are
at the retribution, retaliation stage,” he
Cease Fire meetings took place over
a three-day period. The first two meetings
were held at Boston Municipal Court-Roxbury
Division and the third session took
place at a Jamaica Plain community
center. BMC-Roxbury Chief Probation
Officer Anthony Gully, said "We called
in an amalgam of groups: law enforcement,
human services, community, and clergy,” said
Gully, who coordinated the BMC-Roxbury
meeting. "The purpose is to reach out
to those individuals who are gang-involved
and to send the message to stop the
violence, stop the drama and to avail
themselves of the services available
Branch, these meetings go beyond the
responsibilities of his job, "I was
born and raised in the inner-city.
For me, it is a form of giving back.
These meetings have a very big impact.
If you can reach just one (young man),
it's considered a big impact."