By Shirin Rajaee

SACRAMENTO (CBS13) — The Sacramento City Council voted unanimously to fund a controversial $1.5 million program to combat gun violence.

Sunday’s deadly shooting at Meadowview Park prompted the special meeting Tuesday night at city hall, preceding the regular council meeting.

Forty-nine-year-old father Ernie Cadena was killed when shots rang out Sunday afternoon at the popular Sacramento neighborhood park.

“He was working hard, he did what he could for his daughter and his girlfriend and his baby to come. I don’t think he expected this at all,” said Cadena’s cousin Inez Sutton.

Cadena was spending the day at the park while his friend C-Bo, a well-known Sacramento rapper, was filming a music video. The artist had announced his video shoot on Instagram, writing, “let’s go Sactown OG’s will be outside.”

“It’s a sad, senseless shooting that shouldn’t have happened,” said close friend Allen Brown.

As families gathered to mourn Tuesday night, inside city hall chambers there was a strong show of support for the Advanced Peace program.

“If we don’t try something different, we’re gonna continue to see these patterns,” said Mayor Darrell Steinberg.

The Advanced Peace program is aimed at combatting gun violence in Sacramento by targeting the roughly 50 young men who are believed to be responsible for most of the gun violence in the city. The program is one modeled after a similar, successful one in Richmond that provides participants with high-level mentorship, daily check-ins, case management, and life-goal plans. Per studies presented to the council, from 2010 to 2016 Richmond saw a 50 percent reduction in firearm assaults and 54 percent reduction in related homicides.

The city is being asked to commit $1.5 million over four years.

“It worked in Richmond, it worked in other cities, I believe it will work here, this is our opportunity,” said Sacramento Pastor Les Simmons.

“If giving them positive mentorship, giving them love that they never had growing up, at the same time giving them alternatives to a life with a gun in your hand, then I’m all for it,” said Nicole Clavo, a mother who lost her son JJ to gun violence in 2016.

But City Councilwoman Angelique Ashby had her concerns over the ambiguous language of the contract.

“There’s nothing in this contract that says they’ll need to work with police or even schools,” said Ashby.

“We have no opportunity to pull out of this contract. None!” she said.

Ashby recommended changes and a one-week delay, but received much pushback from the mayor and other members of the council.

“One week delay down the line is another gang shooting, another victim, so no,” said Mayor Steinberg.

Others have criticized the program for offering stipends to qualified participants for reaching their achievements.

Sheriff Scott Jones said in a statement that reads, in part, “I have fundamental objections to this program. I am against significant taxpayer funding (or any money) being paid to people just to NOT commit crimes or shoot people. They do not engage in law enforcement at all, and I have been told that if they become aware of one of the participants committing crime, they will NOT notify law enforcement.”

The mayor’s office says participants can qualify for a stipend, but the money comes out of the program’s private funding, not taxpayer dollars.

They also add that law enforcement will be involved in helping identify the participants that may need the program.

It was a heated debate that eventually ended in a unanimous show of support, giving families some hope.

Shirin Rajaee

Comments (6)
  1. Paying gang members $1,000/month ‘bribes’ to persuade them not to open fire?
    ha, ha, ha. That’s about the STUPIDIEST and DUMBEST ‘idea’ to come out of idiot Mayor Steinberg’s half-brain. These criminals deserve prison and death penalty, not free cash.

    Advanced Peace, is more like Advance Payment.

    The gangs will show up to collect the cash, and then commit their shootings and murders, anyway. Welfare programs have always been garbage, but this one really takes the cake.

    You win 1st prize, Mayor/City Council, for complete insanity.
    Sacramento has become a sanctuary for crime and dumb government, like Berkeley, San Francisco, and San Jose.

  2. Dan Kocalis says:

    You are setting a deadly standard for gangs across the country. Other gangs will look at this as another form of revenue and increase their violence to bring other city counsels to consider payoffs to avoid crime. You are raising the bar of violence across the nation but in Los Angeles, Oakland, Chicago, and Baltimore the impact of your decision to pay ransom to curtail violence will become especially dangerous for citizens living and travelling through those hot pockets..

    Take the 1.5 Million and pay for a specialized police gang unit to arrest these repeat offenders. Or better yet, take the 1.5 million as a consulting fee to Sherriff Joe as I’m pretty sure he already has a plan available that will satisfy your elevated gang issues…

  3. Bahahaha! Suckers. You want libs, this is what you get!

  4. Jason Gray says:

    I’ll put my money that more guns and more drugs find their way into the city. Literally bankrolling the gang’s criminal network.

  5. John Koch says:

    So now we are going to be paying “protection money” to the gangs? Just when I thought the California judicial system could think of anything stupider to do, someone cranks up their thinking cap and lowers the idiot bar another notch.

  6. Sounds pretty good. So how do I get paid for sitting on my ass instead of committing crimes? Government should pay me for watching TV too.

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