COLA Connections Newsletter: November 2014

Fighting Crime with Intelligence at CPSI

Criminal Justice student Ja'Nai Gray works to make a difference in her community.

Justice and empowerment are common themes that run through much of the work done in RIT’s Center for Public Safety Initiatives. Housed in our Department of Criminal Justice, CPSI joins the forces of RIT’s resources with the City of Rochester and other criminal justice agencies such as the Rochester Police Department. CPSI aims specifically to help criminal justice causes through extensive policy research, analysis, and evaluation. The many great minds within are helping to create real world change daily.


Ja’Nai Gray, of the city of Rochester, is one such mind. A second year Criminal Justice and Sociology & Anthropology double major, Gray’s main focus is to graduate early from RIT with her Bachelor’s degree before moving on to the SUNY Buffalo Law School to focus on criminal law. Her long term goals include being an Assistant District Attorney and eventually a judge in criminal court. Gray clearly has her work laid for her, but her effort with CPSI is building a strong foundation for the bright road ahead.


Before joining CPSI in June 2014, Gray worked with RIT Public Safety, NTID, our College of Liberal Arts, and as a cadet for the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office. Shortly after she began her work at CPSI, she took part in a project in which she researched different street outreach programs in several cities and how well they were reaching the gangs they targeted. The project’s intention was to see how these programs could be utilized locally to fight gang violence in Rochester. She presented her findings at the undergraduate research symposium in August.


Gray said that the project inspired her due to “knowing what violence is firsthand.” She said that her family members have dealt directly with street violence, so she feels passionate about helping families who have been through this type of trauma. “It’s not easy to deal with,” she said. “Gang violence prevention is much needed in our greater community.”


In addition to this project, Gray has also implemented her own program called (TIP): Teens in Progress. She created this program in 2014 to address inner-city teens’ social skills and employability concerns. The program will address bullying, suicide, and other major issues through awareness walks, motivational speakers, and field trips. Giving teens mentorship and a non-violent outlet will positively serve the community.


Gray said that this project was created because she found that other programs in the city did not offer opportunities to a wide range of individuals. Her program is open to all youths aged 12-20 who are committed to its mission statement of “Don’t give up, don’t give in, you are destined to win.” Gray is aiding teens who are interested in employment by helping with resume building, job readiness training, and developing professional goals.


A key advantage of CPSI, according to Gray, is the ability to meet so many outside sources while developing one-on-one relationships with criminal justice professors. Writing and research are just two of the many skills she has gained through the program, both of which will continue to be of great use throughout her career.

More information about CPSI and Ja'Nai's work can be found on the Center for Public Safety Initiatives website.