Anti-gang initiative fights back, targets young kids - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Anti-gang initiative fights back, targets young kids

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SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – San Diego city council members approved a three-year strategic plan that addresses anti-gang initiatives.

On Monday, the city's Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention presented its 2015-2017 campaign called “Community Focused Youth Empowerment Initiative.”

Members are made up of clergy, schools, law enforcement, social work and non-profit groups who studied for years gang prevention, intervention and suppression.

Since 2009, homicides are down in San Diego but there are 4,100 documented gang members in the city's 91 gangs and 100 are juveniles. The Commission says gangs used to focus profits on drugs but now its moving to the sex trade. 

The commission presented a plan with three goals:

1) Prevention: Start Early-preschool and after school activities

“When you start teaching parents about how much love and nurture and care is needed early on it really starts filling in the gaps so they are not looking for that later on in life through the gang and acceptance,” said Pastor Jesus Sandoval.

2) Intervention: Workforce readiness and employment; Youth Development

“The real key is the teenagers who are 16,17,18 years-old that are looking for employment and can't find it. It's those people coming out of prison they are coming out, re-entering society,” said gang commissioner and Rise Up Industries board member Gary Lynn.

3) Suppression: The Hardest to Serve- Group Violence Interruption (GVI) support.

Bishop Cornelius Bowser who is a former gang member and a gang commissioner says violent gang crimes are a small percentage of San Diego's crime but says gang violence intervention should target the most violent gang members.

“You have to go to those guys who have the influence and able them to recruit and able to keep the gang going,” said Bowser.

The campaign will also reach out to former gang members to help mentor youth and the youth who want to leave the gang like Pastor Jesus Sandoval at New Harvest Christian Fellowship in City Heights did in 1998.

“They can connect with those people and see there is another alternative, 'I don't have to die, I don't have to stay in the gang, I don't have to go to prison, I can actually change my life,'” said Pastor Sandoval.

At the six-month progress report, the council will have hard numbers on how much the initiative will cost. Members on the commission say most will come from private and government grants.

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