Gov. Tom Wolf announced the $148,000 grant as part of a $1.5 million package of anti-violence funding statewide.
A state grant will help keep in place what have become two fixtures in the fight against gun violence in the city of Erie: the Blue Coats peace initiative and the “call-ins” for troubled youth.
The grant, for $148,141, will allow the city of Erie and the Erie School District to continue the programs, which are connected to the Unified Erie anti-violence initiative. The grant will also fund an effort to prevent school violence.
“It is going to enhance the efforts that are already underway,” said Amy Eisert, director of the Mercyhurst University Civic Institute, which does research for Unified Erie.
The Blue Coat volunteers meet with Erie School District students and help monitor district schools for safety. In the call-ins, law enforcement officials and social service workers offer at-risk youth help in exchange for turning away from crime.
Unified Erie has held three call-ins since April 26, 2017, and credits them for the reduction in gang-related homicides and other gang-related violence.
Gov. Tom Wolf announced the $148,141 grant for the city of Erie. The funding is part of more than $1.5 million the state allocated to eight municipalities for its 2018 Gun Violence Reduction Initiative.
Municipalities applied for the grants through the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, which provides the money for municipalities to implement strategies to curb gun violence.
In announcing the grant for Erie, the state said the money will help pay for, among other things, “development of an assessment to integrate school data to identify youth with risk indicators for school violence” and “data collection and analysis of key gun violence indicators.”
The grant will also help pay for “a community coordinator,” who is the supervisor of the Blue Coats, as well as the call-ins. The Mercyhurst Civic Institute will also receive some of the funding, according to the state.
For the Erie School District, a portion of the grant will fund the annual salary of Daryl Craig, who supervises the Blue Coats, which have a contract with the school district, said Daria Devlin, the Erie School District’s coordinator of grants and community relations.
Devlin said the district had used a grant from the Erie Community Foundation to fund the Blue Coats, but looked for new funding sources when that grant ran out. Craig’s salary is $36,400 a year, Devlin said.
At City Hall, Erie police Deputy Chief Mike Nolan said the grant will help cover the police’s costs related to the call-ins. He said costs include paying for police to attend; call-in advance work, including gathering and analyzing police intelligence; and any enforcement actions required after a call-in.
Also receiving grants, Wolf announced on Friday, are Philadelphia, $500,000; Pittsburgh, $250,000; Allentown, $150,000; Johnstown, $150,000; York, $150,000; McKeesport, $149,999; and Monessen, in Westmoreland County, $24,103.
“I am pleased the commonwealth was able to make funding available to help avert gun violence in these municipalities and hope that these efforts can be expanded to more communities,” Wolf said in a statement.
Staff writer Tim Hahn contributed to this report.
Ed Palattella can be reached at 870-1813 or by email. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/ETNpalattella.