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Project Longevity Launched To Combat Gun Violence In Three Connecticut Cities

Teenagers play basketball in Bridgeport, Conn. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Teenagers play basketball in Bridgeport, Conn. (credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

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BRIDGEPORT, Conn. (CBSNewYork) - The U.S. Justice Department and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy have announced the launch a new initiative to combat gun violence in Bridgeport, New Haven, and Hartford.

WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau On The Story

According the the Justice Department, “Project Longevity uses a strategy that has shown violence can be reduced dramatically when community members and law enforcement join together to directly engage with these groups and clearly communicate a community message against violence, a law enforcement message about the consequences of further violence and an offer of help for those who want it. To accomplish this, law enforcement, social service providers and community members are recruited, assembled and trained to engage in a sustained relationship with violent groups.”

This year in Bridgeport alone, there have been 78 shootings. 21 of those resulted in deaths.

Mayor Bill Finch is all for the community support that the program offiers to violent teens who are willing to change their ways.

“What Project Longevity is going to do is going to give options. It’s going to say ‘If you choose the right path, here are the social service providers for the youth and the children of the community that may be prone to violence. If you choose the negative bath, the full force of the law will come down on you and all the members of your group,'” Finch told WCBS 880 Connecticut Bureau Chief Fran Schneidau.

The key to the plan, Finch said, is group accountability.

“On the state level, I have directed my administration to focus our criminal justice resources on urban violence,” Gov. Malloy said. “We agree that no strategy will be effective without the support of the community. This means parents, clergy, neighborhood leaders, grandmothers, grandfathers, aunts, uncles – everyone working toward one goal. We are working to regain the trust of the African American and Latino communities. We need their help. The lives of these young people are too valuable not to act.”

LINK: More From USDOJ