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Raleigh-Durham gets federal gang-prevention grant

Posted May 13, 2008

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— The federal government has awarded Raleigh-Durham a $2.5 million grant to combat gang violence.

The funds, which go into effect in June and span over the next three years, will go toward prevention efforts, law enforcement resources and rehabilitation of convicts to return to society. Both Wake and Durham counties will split the grant.

About $1 million of the grant from the Department of Justice's Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative will go help prevent children from joining gangs and invest in community and school programs. Another $1 million will go to give law enforcement resources to investigate and lock up violent offenders.

The remaining $500,000 will go to helping convicts return to society as productive citizens by working with community providers to provide transitional housing, job placement, substance abuse treatment and mental health counseling.

Local law enforcement agencies estimate a third to half of violent crimes committed have some kind of gang connection. More than 5,000 gang members are in the state's criminal database.

And Wake County Sheriff Donnie Harrison says about 100 gang members are housed in the Wake County Jail every day.

"Back in the late '90s, early 2000, nobody wanted to admit we had a gang problem," Harrison said Tuesday following the announcement of the grant by the Department of Justice. "That threw us behind the curve."

Now, local leaders say they want to get ahead of the problem. Acknowledging it as one, they say, is the first step.

The next steps go beyond local law enforcement.

"We know that solving this problem, for our community, will take a coordinated community approach, involving everyone from families, churches, nonprofits, local governments and law enforcement," Durham Mayor Bill Bell said.

Raleigh Police Chief Harry Dolan says that also means looking at the real problems that cause young people to join gangs.

"We have to look at what are the real causation factors," Dolan said. "The gang activity is a symptom of what's happening much earlier in young people's lives. Boys and Girls Club, after-school activities, mentorships – we have to make certain we are coming up with resources to address that issue."

Raleigh-Durham is one of four municipalities in the nation – the others are Indianapolis, Rochester, N.Y., and Oklahoma City –to receive the grant and was chosen partially because of the area's commitment and established efforts to fight gangs, the Department of Justice said.

Enacted in 2006, the Comprehensive Anti-Gang Initiative, is already in place in six other sites across the nation and has already made strides in those cities, the justice department said.

For example, in Cleveland, one of the most violent gangs operating in the area has been dismantled and prosecutions have resulted in 168 federal and state convictions.

By 2007, homicides were down by approximately 39 percent and violent crimes were down by approximately 15 percent.

17 Comments

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  • drh3102 May 15, 2008

    This makes no sence to me at all. I clearly remember that when the goons were arrested for the Eve Carson Murder, that Public statements were made by the Durham elected officals and police that "Durham does not have a gang problem". Were now does all of this gang talk come from? Because the Feds have a grant and money to offer? Does this mean that there is really a gang problem?

  • mramorak May 14, 2008

    How's the gang problen in durham public schools?

  • cttxnc May 14, 2008

    "Right now the gangs have a positive appeal to the young, dumb, poor kids."

    Maybe they should visit some of the high schools or middle schools in the area. My son had the worst time when he started high school. He had two different gang that were trying to "jump" him in. They came looking for him not the other way around. It is hard to fight to stay out of the gangs then ever before. And you would be surprised at some of the members now. They are not all the young dumb kids that most people think. And a number of the kids are not coming from single parent homes either. Luckily I found out about it before something serious happened.

    Another friend of mine had to home school her kids because of problems with gang members because her son refused to join one of the gangs that was at his school.

  • TheAdmiral May 13, 2008

    "And just how are they going to prevent the formation of gangs?"

    I seem to remember when there was a lower instance of gangs, Boy Scouts was the cool thing to be in, and there was a large number of people who watched in the neighborhood - and if there was someone there, they asked if they needed help.

    Now comes the ACLU and starts laying lawsuits out there like candy and we all of a sudden have a hard time trying to figure out how to reduce gangs, how to stop the degradation of society.

    I think it is abundantly clear how to stop gangs. STOP ACTING LIKE VICTIMS AND START ACTING LIKE A COMMUNITY!

    It is the only way. A community that is strong has no problems with gangs. A community that is weak and running scared is what gangs want - and are getting via passiveness.

  • PowderedToastMan May 13, 2008

    Here's an idea-- start holding parents responsible so maybe the parents will actually start discipling their kids and pay attention to what's going on in their lives instead of letting XBOX be their babysitter. Oh wait, good luck finding both parents of a gangbanger.

    Here's a better idea to lower the gang population: If you go on welfare you can't have kids. Period. Too bad...too many gangbangers running around because daddy is too irresponsibe to wear a condom then not around to raise his offspring.

  • fbguru May 13, 2008

    I agree that proven gang members need to see some type of punishment, BEFORE they commit a crime. There has to be some type of deterrent because "colliedave" is right, gang-life is glorified on TV, in movies and in songs. Treat them like the terrorists they are. Other groups in the US are not knowingly allowed to form and promote acts of terror like gang initiations, which oftentime involves shooting, robbing or raping someone. Gang members are glorified in their circle of peers and then crimes they commit often go unpunished because it's a "first offense" or they're minors. Gangs run rampant and until state and local government gets involved with law enforcement and they all start working on a neighborhood by neighborhood basis, from the inside out, it's not going to get better.

  • colliedave May 13, 2008

    And just how are they going to prevent the formation of gangs? Midnight basketball worked so well (cough, cough). The Just Say No program?

    How are they going to stop something that is glorified in the 'hood and on BET/MTV? The war on drugs has worked so well, we should expect victory in the war on gangs, right?

    Instead of wasting money on programs such as this, why not help the traditional two parent family with a mother and a FATHER. The absence of a strong father figure in the family is a prime factor in gangs. But this isn't PC.

  • bcc May 13, 2008

    As usual, plenty of positive, constructive comments from our learned readers here...sigh

  • blackdog May 13, 2008

    ...so will this prevent teen pregnancy and rewarding them with anything they need without working for it ? Will this make the fathers take care of their offspring ? Will this ensure the parents teach life lessons ?

  • Tired Of Excuses May 13, 2008

    I wonder who's pocket the money will fatten a couple of years from now?

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