Local News

State grant to help fight Cumberland gangs

Posted June 24, 2008 1:04 p.m. EDT
Updated June 24, 2008 3:16 p.m. EDT

— The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and the Fayetteville Police Department will merge their anti-gang units as part of a two-year state grant to help the county fight the growth of street gangs.

The $400,000 grant will let authorities share resources to better track gang activities and crack down on offenses. It also will allow social workers to ride with officers when requested to provide on-the-street assistance and will get area churches involved in the fight against gangs.

"We're going to take kids who have been put out of school for gang-affiliated or related behavior and put them into a faith-based program, where they're going to get academic remediation and some other mentoring and coaching and try to separate them from the gangs," said Robin Jenkins, executive director of Cumberland County CommuniCare Inc., which received the state grant and will coordinate the anti-gang effort.

CommuniCare is an umbrella organization that supports at-risk youths and families in Cumberland County.

The grant marks the first time state money has been earmarked to engage churches and other faith-based programs in anti-gang efforts, officials said.

Cumberland County authorities have identified 11 gangs, including the notorious Bloods and Crips, as being active in the county. School resource officers have reported more than 200 incidents of suspected gang activity in the past year.

"We have documented gang activity in many of our schools," Jenkins said. "We know that a lot of the adult gang members are using juveniles in their recruitment and also in their criminal activities."