C-3 policing transforming Springfield neighborhood - CBS 3 Springfield - WSHM

C-3 policing transforming Springfield neighborhood

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SPRINGFIELD, MA (WSHM) -

It's a story CBS 3 has been following - the success of a state and Springfield police initiative in the city's North End.

Law enforcement and residents say it's transforming their neighborhood and cutting crime by 68 percent.

"I wish every hotspot community could use it, it has changed the lives of people here," said Jose Claudio, director of the New North Citizens Council.

Claudio has lived in arguably the city's most dangerous neighborhood for more than 40 years.

But he and many others aren't giving up on it.

"This is our city, this is our neighborhood, we need to all work together," he said.

After a particularly violent week that claimed three lives in the fall of 2009, police and residents were finally fed up with the violence.

"It was, it was a wake-up call for all of us," said state police Trooper Michael Cutone.

Cutone took a lesson from his time in the Army Special Forces in Iraq and applied them to the streets in the North End.

"Gang members and drug dealers operate very similar to insurgents...by paralyzing the community and instilling fear in the community," Cutone said.

But it's more than just locking people up.

"It starts with every neighbor, it starts with every resident of Springfield," said Claudio.

Claudio invites people he knows involved in the community to weekly meetings. Community and religious leaders and Springfield and state police meet there to talk about recent arrests, complaints and programs that are helping teens.

Issues brought up at Thursday's meeting led state police to a home on Washburn Street, where a group of kids has allegedly been terrorizing one family.

Cutone says all too often this neighborhood swallows young kids up into a world of fear and abuse.

And most of the time gangs are seen as the only way out.

"It's very difficult for that young person to say 'no' and they get sucked into the gang, so we have to have a counter-message, and one of those counter-messages is Joseph Mendoza," Cutone said.

CBS 3 first introduced you to Pfc. Joseph Mendoza last week just days after he had graduated from Marine Corp boot camp.

Since seeing his story as a North End kid staying out of trouble and succeeding, families have approached his mom on how they can do the same.

"First young man from this community to go to the student trooper program, a year later from that joins the Marine Corp," said Cutone.

But his story is not the only one of hope and survival coming out of this neighborhood.

Some of the people that go to the weekly meetings have done time, learned the hard way and are now paying it forward in various ways.

"It's very humbling and rewarding at the same time," Cutone said.

Claudio says he knows that once this group continues to scrape away the crime, the people of the North End can turn a corner.

"If everybody takes that pride and makes it happen, this city will be the comeback city," Claudio said.

C-3 policing is catching the attention of law enforcement all over the nation.

Since seeing its benefits, police from California and North Carolina have visited Springfield to learn about it.

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