From left are Khalid Shah, William Welch, Andre Christian, James Williams III, Dr. Aquil Basheer, Umar Hakim Dey, and Naim Shah Sr. (Courtesy photo)

On Wednesday July 5, a panel of professional grassroots leaders consisting of some of the most dynamic and influential trainers in the country came together to present a combined curriculum of public safety, gang prevention and interdiction best practices to faith and community-based agencies across South L.A., specifically targeting SPA 6.

According to California Attorney General Rob Bonta and the Justice Department’s most recent reports, hate crimes have greatly increased, affecting 27% of African Americans, who make up only 9% of the population, and a growing faith-based population.

The panel was moderated by Imam Tariq Ali of Masjid Islah L.A. and Rey Liggins, associate director of Stop the Violence Increase the Peace Foundation.

The program aligns itself with the mission of L.A. Mayor Karen Bass, whose origins are rooted in community organizing, along with Councilmember Monica Rodriguez, head of the City Council’s Public Safety Committee.

Attendees learn about the Public Safety Training Program. (Courtesy photo)

The panelists included Dr. Aquil Basheer, founder of the Professional Community Intervention Training Institute, an award-winning author, and one of the nation’s premier violence intermediation specialist; Umar Hakim Dey, board president of LA Voice and founder of INKERIJ; Naim Shah, Sr., community organizer, entrepreneur, and executive director of Dawah 2000;  William Welch, security expert, former board member of the SHURAH Council, and affiliated with Outreach 360; Andre Christian, CEO of Watts Life United and a certified prevention/intervention; and  Khalid Shah, founder and CEO of the Stop the Violence Increase the Peace Foundation and the California LA Peace Builders Collaborative Safe Communities Initiative and convener for the training.

This new community-based approach to prevention and intervention is modeled on a strategy of compassion and is not politically driven.  That approach in the 1990s led to locking up hundreds and thousands of young Black men through a relentless campaign of fear.

“Our strategy is to individually address and unravel the trauma that causes violence and create socially productive responsive to it and that should be a community discussion that must always include victims,” explained Shah.

The curriculum consists of four modules covering a 16-week period.  Module #1 is Community Violence Interdiction and LTO – License To Operate.  Module #2 is Community Organizing and

Entrepreneur Training. Module #3 is Facilitating Meetings Around Community Conflict and Module #4 is Gang Prevention/Intervention Street Ambassadors.

The modules will teach the principles underlying community engagement, agency capacity building, resolving community and personal conflict, and best practices for gang prevention/intervention street ambassadors.

The certified training will prepare and qualify participants to work with the Gang Reduction and Youth Development (GRYD) program funded by the city of Los Angeles and other county, state, and federal grant programs. Many of the participants will serve as community-based street ambassadors for Taste of Soul, Kingdom Day Parade and other community events.

The discussion began by assessing the qualifications to be community ambassador and the professional prerequisite necessary.  According to Andre Christian, “Some folks are not qualified to do this work.  They may want peace, but are not personally committed to the peace process.”

In the words of Dr. Aquil Basheer, who will lead the core of the training, “Failure is a bruise, not a tattoo.”

“This training will set the standard of unified operational protocol that will govern how a regional collaborative of community experts will engage. While there have been partnerships created in the past, most involved in those partnerships worked on their own silo of expertise. There was no dictated blueprint or roadmap that would determine how the entire collective would engage and what individual roles & expectations would be,” said Rey Leggins, associate director of the Stop the Violence Increase the Peace Foundation.

“Additionally, because unified standard operating procedures were not in place within the entire collaborative, clear direction was not established. The Dawah-based Prevention and Intervention Training seeks to remedy that,” he shared.

“One of the other major benefits of this training is that it will include a unified blueprint, rules and regulations, specific tools, and explicit etiquettes that the team will move from and build guided by regional and national expertise and partnerships already working throughout the U.S.,” concluded Leggins.


To learn more, call Rey Leggins at (213) 703-8920.