Local News

Southeast Raleigh street gang program aims to curb crime

Posted April 26, 2010 11:25 p.m. EDT
Updated April 27, 2010 4:25 p.m. EDT

— After a string of gang-related homicides in southeast Raleigh last year, a group of area citizens came together to talk about ways to redirect teenagers away from gangs.

Together they formed Project Ricochet Inc., a broad-based collaboration effort of the Raleigh Martin Luther King Committee, Raleigh-Wake Citizens Association and recognized community street-gang resource leaders.

"The behavior and the things these kids are going through, I can totally relate to,” Richard Monk Henry, gang coordinating director for Project Ricochet, said Monday.

Project Ricochet aims to steer teens in southeast Raleigh away from gang-related crime and towards staying in school.

"It is important that people have a quiet neighborhood and security,” southeast Raleigh resident James Graham said.

Graham said he knows the reputation some people have of his neighborhood.

"Drug activities, prostitution activities and what else, breaking and entering, people stealing cars,” he said.

Police have made serious commitments to deter crime in the area, but gang problems lingered.

"The gang problem in Raleigh, it is terrible,” Henry said.

Project Richochet plans to change that by offering potential gang members workshops and places to study.

Sgt. Chaz Rosa, with the Raleigh Police Gang Suppression Unit, says community and law enforcement efforts to curb crime in the area appear to be paying off.

"We have had a significant reduction in gang-related crimes in Raleigh since I joined the gang unit and it continues to go down,” he said.

Overall crime in southeast Raleigh is down from 2008 to 2009 by nearly 11.5 percent, police said. Violent crimes are down more than 17 percent and property crimes are down nearly 10 percent, according to police statistics.

The crime drop is good news for people living in the area.

"It is going to be a better place. It is going to be a beautiful place,” Graham said.