After the Webinar: C3 Policing and the 8 Building Blocks for Healthier Communities. Q&A with the Presenters

Webinar presenters Michael Couton and John Barbieri answered a number of your questions after their presentation, Innovation in Policing: C3 Policing and the Eight Building Blocks for Healthier Communities. Here are just a few of their responses.


Audience Question: Could you repeat what C3 stands for? And I’ll try to write this down myself. 

Michael M. Cutone: Counter criminal continuum policing.


Audience Question: Can you go back to that slide with the five goals of the community? 

Michael M. Cutone: Sure, Sure. Create a safe secure environment. Promote foster community and relationship partnership with law enforcement community leaders. Reduce gang activity and violence, reduce drug activity, and establish positive and effective youth parental programs. And again, those essential tasks might have to be tailored to the community. So, when we did the C3 team, in the south end of Springfield, they weren’t dealing with gang violence. But they did have a prostitution problem, sex trade problem, human trafficking. So, you would substitute to reduce gang activity to prostitution problem? How do we provide services for these poor women who are being enslaved by this activity and get them treatment? So, you can tailor those five essential goals to what it is your community is dealing with? So C3 is scalable and adaptable to the community.


Audience Question: How would a member of the community suggest starting a program like this in their local agency? 

Michael M. Cutone: Yeah, I mean, I would imagine, maybe reach out to your department. Or have them contact me. I’m happy to talk to any department, to give them an idea of how you go about starting up a C3 team. And it’s not as difficult as people think it is. It’s just a matter of, you have an agency that wants to do it, wants to learn more about it. So, I would say the first step, have them reach out to me. I’ll be happy to talk to their department, answer any of the questions they might have. I don’t know if that’s if I’m answering the question directly there.


Audience Question: I think that’s a great idea, in terms of finding the right person at the agency to speak to you, should it be the chief steward, it be command staff, or who is the right person? 

Michael M. Cutone: I’m going to, I’m going to let John speak on this too. So, from my end, it’s probably the frontline supervisor, maybe that sergeant that lieutenant that can reach out to them. Or even maybe reach out to a community member like a local State rep or the mayor, and say, “Hey, here’s another additional community policing model that I believe could be effective in the city,” and maybe the mayor’s aid or the mayor’s rep or the state rep can also reach out to someone on the department. I don’t know. What are your thoughts on that, John?

John Barbieri: I think you’re right out of the money first, it could be a supervisor, or it could be an officer. That’s in that neighborhood that you understand is really community committed. Especially, you’re seeing more and more educated officers that want to become involved and want to be involved in the solution, not just a response. One of those officers especially if they’re passionate, could certainly —- to their supervisor. And Michael’s right on point. Reach out to that community activist in the neighborhood that has sway with the state rep or the mayor. Or reach out to the mayor or the state rep directly because that will encourage the command staff. I’m sure, especially in these difficult times, a command staff is swamped with well-meaning people who have a thousand ideas. A state rep, or the mayor, or a well-known community activist, or respected service supervisor brings us to their table. Hopefully, they’ll jump on it, just like I did. If they have a chance.

Michael M. Cutone: You know. Another thing, too, with that question that you can mention to the department, or the mayor’s aid, or the state rep, is C3 – the departments, not Trinity Project, but the departments have received grant money. So, Springfield PD, the C3 team in the South End received close to a million-dollar DOJ grant for implementing C3 in the South End. And the State of Massachusetts gave grant money to Springfield PD and Chicopee PD, especially in this era of folks talking about defunding policing. Well, the C3 teams in Springfield PD and Chicopee PD actually received grant money from the state because the state was acknowledging, “Hey, this program work, it’s legitimate and builds goodwill with the population.”

John Barbieri: They looked at the North End that came in and offered money to expand it to the South End.


Audience Question: So once the C3 program was implemented, how long did it take in Springfield to start seeing an impact at the street level? 

John Barbieri: Almost immediately, just anecdotally, after I talked to Mike and we got the —– all started, we started having the meetings. We started to see immediate results. In one of the first meetings, people were complaining about drug dealing in front of the major apartment project and why didn’t the police take action. You know, in our response list, there are usually 50 to 60 people hanging around outside that building. We don’t know who the drug dealers are. The next day, our contacts were flooded with descriptions and accurate information and intelligence on where the drugs were, or if they’re armed, and that just went on and on and on. One of the first community walkthroughs we did: you’ll want to get somebody to answer the door, have a state trooper, a uniformed police officer and a priest knock on the door. People came to the door,  the first couple of walkthroughs, they weren’t sure we were there for keeps. By the third walkthrough, people were handing me slips of information with information on that, my pockets were full by the time I got back to the car.


Audience Question: How did you get the word out about the weekly meetings? How did you get the attention of the right people who want to help and can help? 

Michael M. Cutone: It’s funny when we first started this, I didn’t even think that we thought about advertising it and the community members did it themselves. They would bring folks to the meeting and then we realized like, “Hey, we needed a clear message. We needed to manage the message”, and it started with flyers. We made flyers. And we would do the community walkthroughs like maybe every other week or every other two weeks and the community member would let us know what street they want us to walk through. You know, the walkthroughs the chief talked about. We had community members invite us on a Spanish radio channel, and it just kind of took off on its own. Um, it was kind of surprising. I don’t think. I wasn’t, it surprised me that the community members started spreading the word on their own, like to the point where we had neighborhood residents from other sections of other cities come to our community meeting. But so, it was through flyers, local Spanish radio channels, and just word of mouth. That’s how we started spreading it and doing the weekly or bimonthly walkthroughs.


Audience Question: Is this program still being used in Springfield with the same kind of results? 

Michael M. Cutone: It is, Springfield PD still has their four teams running in the four areas. They are getting phenomenal results in these areas. The officers feel empowered. The community members feel empowered. Just recently, the North End and Chicopee PD received grant money from the state to do C3. And there was a news article a couple of weeks ago that Chicopee PD who’s getting ready to expand their C3 program.


Audience Question: Got it, so we’ve Chicopee and Springfield, are there other locations that have implemented the C3 program? 

Michael M. Cutone: Components of it. I know the Vermont State Police did some components of it, although they didn’t call C3. They came down to receive some briefing and training for me. And Holyoke, the South End side of Holyoke thru the Sheriff’s Department, has a version they used. They used elements of C3, so those are two other areas that took some of the best practices of C3 and implemented it in their own areas.


Audience Question: Does the C3 Program provide employment opportunities, or training, especially for those folks looking to leave behind their criminal behavior past?

Michael M. Cutone: The employment opportunities that we did were more of a kind of relationship-building that we did. So, through the community members or local business owners. Some of these offenders that will get arrested when they got out, we would approach them and say, “Hey, do you want a job?” And we were to offer them jobs with some of the different community members in the area that were willing to hire them. So, we had one gentleman who had a little construction company, pay the company and he hired a lot of the kids in the area, troubled youth, and some of them locked up and they got out. He would hire them, put them to work. So, it really depends on the area they are in and the relationship that you build with the local business leaders in the communities. But once you bring in the business leaders and let them know what you’re trying to do with C3. What John and I experience is they were very open to want to give back to the community and hire folks from the community.

John Barbieri: One other point, Mike. A lot of the agencies that are out there, whether they’re public or semi-public, or non-profit, that provide training, once word gets out, that you’re doing C3, and you’re inviting people to the meeting. So, they’ll show up, they want to become involved in one of the biggest educational opportunities for them is, they don’t realize that people will not travel outside their own neighborhoods to attend those trainings. You had to bring that training to them or arrange for transportation. Especially in some of the most economically deprived, hardest-hit areas with crime, people don’t want their children, or their youth to walk four blocks to go to training. So, you know, the businesses and the social service agencies are supposed to do that. You get them all in the same room, and that’s when things start to happen.

Michael M. Cutone:  It’s a great point. I want to highlight what John said there. I know the byproducts of the community meeting that I wasn’t anticipating was you had all these different folks within the city, whether they’re school teachers, principals, and nurses, someone from the mayor’s aid, a citizen, a non-profit, a business owner. And now they’re all in the same room and they’re actually talking to each other. And someone brings up a problem and the problem can be resolved right then and there during the community meeting, because someone will step up and say, “Hey, I can help you with that. I have the ability to do XYZ.” And I saw that time and time, again, happen during the community meetings.


Audience Question: So, speaking of that, can you talk a little bit more about what makes community intelligence the most effective?

Michael M. Cutone:  I think community intelligence is the community members who live in this area A lot of times, what we found is there’s a lot of unreported crime because of a distrust of law enforcement, poor relationship with law enforcement. So, once we start establishing that legitimacy and goodwill with the community, the community is going to pull back the fabric on, “Hey, this is what’s going on in our area,” whatever the crime is. And they’re going to give us the best antidote to how to address that crime. Law enforcement will come in thinking, “Hey, I just lock up bad guys.” But you could do that for a whole career, and you’re not changing the environment. The community members are going to give you, the antidotes, and the solutions to the problems that they’re dealing with? And now, law enforcement needs to partner up with them.

John Barbieri: Additionally, one of the biggest counter—— issues to the hardest-hit neighborhoods is you don’t really get 911 calls that provide descriptive information, you need to resolve the problem. People either don’t believe you’re legitimate or they’re afraid. I was a big proponent of Comp Stat. The problem with Comp Stat is you evaluate the information you’ll receive departmentally. And your 911 calls, and your incident reports, could lead you to a problem in a neighborhood. But they’re not going to knock on the door, and tell you which neighbor’s causing that problem, where they hide their drugs, what firearms they’re carrying if they’re beating their children if they’re trafficking young women. That’s the kind of information somebody on the ground, living in a neighborhood can provide to the police and could actually help to resolve issues.

Michael M. Cutone: So, what we saw in the North End is, you had open-air drug selling. And these local posse running roughshod in the community and the community members, a vast majority of them in this community are good people, trying to make out a living provide for the family. But they were unwillingly giving passive support to the bad guys. What do I mean by passive support? Hey, they didn’t support the bad guys, they didn’t like the behavior. But at the same time, they weren’t willing to engage law enforcement. So, that’s a law enforcement issue, how do we bridge that gap? How do we win them over? To win over that passive support to active support to law enforcement, and those eight building blocks do that. The eight-building blocks erode that passive support that the gangbangers will thrive off. And so, gangbangers will go into a neighborhood, it’s broken and fail, because they know the community members are not going to call them out for whatever reason they’re not, for a whole host of reasons. So C3 is building that legitimacy, that community Intel, where community members feel safe, feel comfortable, trusts law enforcement. And that takes time, could take a couple of weeks, couple of months during the community meetings, community walkthroughs, and they see that we’re not going away, and we’re committed to this. Now you’re undermining that support, that passive support that the gang members, drug dealers were trying to thrive off of. That’s been removed from them and now makes it very inhospitable for them to operate in those areas.


Audience Question: Have you seen communities that have implemented C3 include people with psychiatric experience as part of a collaborative team? And if so, how has that made a difference? 

Michael M. Cutone: Yeah, That’s a great question. So, I think we saw healthcare providers in the South End because, in the South End, we had a bad prostitution problem. And, you know these poor women have a drug addiction issue, abuse issue, traumatic PTSD issues. So, we did have, I forget, who was Health One Stop, but what the organization was, there were clinicians that would actually do ride alongs with the C3 officers. So, the C3 teams actually reached out to these clinicians in, like, “Hey, what we’re not experts in these areas? How do you help us reach out to these folks?” And the clinicians offered to come out with our officers. So, that’s how we use the healthcare providers in one example, to provide treatment for these women versus just locking them up, right? Because that’s not going to fix the problem. So, the one thing which C3 does is try to address the root causes. For us, the arrest is not a win, right? That’s like the last step that we want to do. We want to be able to treat what’s happening and get that person to make them whole and healthy. I hope I answered your question.

John Barbieri: I actually have another example, the C3 unit in the metro area, in the South End. We actually had a casino open there about a billion-dollar investment in the city. At that time, I was the police commissioner. There was a huge homeless population in the area and arrest was definitely not the answer. The C3 officers work with the clinicians and they used a model development in Saskatchewan, Canada, where they would meet once or twice a week with veteran services, local hospitals, psychiatric organizations, local hospitals, the outreach workers for the homeless, and they would try to provide services for those folks. Positive interactions, assistance help, instead of negative interactions.


Audience Question: Can you talk a little bit more about how you went about selecting the right officers while staying within the bounds of the FOP contracts? 

Michael M. Cutone: I’ll speak to it on my end and John could speak to it on his end. For the troopers. It was pretty cut and dry. We just did interviews. I looked at the troopers’ work ethic, and you can’t hide from your work ethic. You can’t hide from your productivity, what your peers and supervisors think of you. And we wanted two things you can’t teach someone. I can’t teach ethics and I can’t teach your work ethic. But if someone has good ethical behavior and a good work ethic, I can teach them the C3 mode and how to implement it. So, I was basically the offer selection for on my end, which finds good ethical officers that had like an unyielding work ethic. I’ll turn it over to John here on his own.

John Barbieri: The FOP contracts. That can be a headache. So, what we did was make the selection process voluntary. Officers had the right to say they wanted to work in the units. Basically, it was a separate distinct unit from patrol. So, seniority was not a factor for assignment. Then we looked at their inputs, and their outputs, and the interview process. And then it will continue to refine the process because you’re going to find some officers really like talking to people but they don’t want to make arrests and vice versa. Or some people just don’t understand that they have to learn how to work things through the community’s perspective and not just look for problems from the police perspective. So, there’s going to be people that cycle in and cycle out, so it’s a continuous process. Usually, if they get to Michael’s classes though, by the end of it, there are fairly committed. We had a very small number of officers that we cycled out. I was really impressed.

Michael M. Cutone: One of the other things I noticed, too, and I got a lot of feedback from, especially John’s officers like Sarge instead, have been on for 20, 25 years. And these are grizzled veterans, patrol officers working in a high crime area. And when they got exposed to C3, it was like a light bulb went off. They realize, hey, there’s a different way of solving problems, and it’s not just arresting people, and it really empowers the officer. They become at par, they become creative with how they’re solving the problems, right? And I would say that’s the most rewarding aspect for the officers that do C3. It’s a drastically different approach to law enforcement and they find it very rewarding. I saw very few C3 officers that came to the unit that wanted to leave, and it was always more of, “Hey, when you can expand the program? Are they doing more hiring to put more guys on?” So, it’s a very rewarding experience, also, for the officers when they do it.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Innovation in Policing: C3 Policing and the Eight Building Blocks for Healthier Communities.



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