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What motivates the peacekeepers of Stockton’s Office of Violence Prevention

On the top level of Stockton City Hall, employees with the Office of Violence Prevention wait for the phone to ring.”We should get the call within the next one second to 20 minutes,” said peacekeeper Drew Lucero.There was a shooting in the city Tuesday afternoon. Staff were waiting for word to head out. Lucero said it is of the “utmost importance” to be able to respond to the hospital within 30 minutes of any shooting. “I think anytime the Office of Violence of Prevention, along with its partners, respond to a community after there has been a shooting or a homicide, it lets the community know that we see them,” Officer Director Lora Larson said.That’s what peacekeepers inside the office do every day. They work to help prevent the next shooting from happening by focusing on gang members.”We talk about what’s going on in their lives, and we offer them an opportunity to make different choices,” Larson said.Part of that is connecting gang members with education, mental health services and housing support. Larson said that also involves offering them a life coach.Natalia Hurtado is a peacekeeper with the city who started working in the office in December. Her job includes outreach to youth to help them stray from violence. The motivation is there for peacekeepers, who are also members of the community, most of whom grew up surrounded by violence. “You see something and you’re like this is kind of normal,” Hurtado said. “I know it sounds really bad, but growing up in Stockton, you get immune to it.”Peacekeeping is personal for many who do it, including Lucero, who had a brother who did 18 years of prison for a gun-related charge. He’s also lost friends and family to gun violence. Lucero thinks about his teenage children every time he hears about a senseless shooting.”It is actually one of my biggest fears when I get the calls and I’m at work — if it is going to be one of my family members or my children because these bullets don’t have names,” Lucero said.

On the top level of Stockton City Hall, employees with the Office of Violence Prevention wait for the phone to ring.

“We should get the call within the next one second to 20 minutes,” said peacekeeper Drew Lucero.

There was a shooting in the city Tuesday afternoon. Staff were waiting for word to head out. Lucero said it is of the “utmost importance” to be able to respond to the hospital within 30 minutes of any shooting.

“I think anytime the Office of Violence of Prevention, along with its partners, respond to a community after there has been a shooting or a homicide, it lets the community know that we see them,” Officer Director Lora Larson said.

That’s what peacekeepers inside the office do every day. They work to help prevent the next shooting from happening by focusing on gang members.

“We talk about what’s going on in their lives, and we offer them an opportunity to make different choices,” Larson said.

Part of that is connecting gang members with education, mental health services and housing support. Larson said that also involves offering them a life coach.

Natalia Hurtado is a peacekeeper with the city who started working in the office in December. Her job includes outreach to youth to help them stray from violence.

The motivation is there for peacekeepers, who are also members of the community, most of whom grew up surrounded by violence.

“You see something and you’re like this is kind of normal,” Hurtado said. “I know it sounds really bad, but growing up in Stockton, you get immune to it.”

Peacekeeping is personal for many who do it, including Lucero, who had a brother who did 18 years of prison for a gun-related charge. He’s also lost friends and family to gun violence.

Lucero thinks about his teenage children every time he hears about a senseless shooting.

“It is actually one of my biggest fears when I get the calls and I’m at work — if it is going to be one of my family members or my children because these bullets don’t have names,” Lucero said.

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