Anti-gang efforts could involve local churches - Catholic Courier

Anti-gang efforts could involve local churches

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales recently traveled to Rochester, where he announced that the city would receive $2.5 million in added grant funding to combat gang violence.

Rochester joined Oklahoma City, Indianapolis and Raleigh-Durham in receiving funding as part of the Justice Department’s anti-gang initiative. Rochester’s grant will be used to prevent gang violence, to enforce anti-gang laws and to prepare offenders to re-enter society.

Victor Saunders, director of the anti-gang group Pathways to Peace, said parishes can take part in anti-gang efforts by hosting presentations by the group, mentoring young men and by supporting a new 150-man task force that will be forming soon to combat the problem, among other efforts.

Police Chief David T. Moore said church representatives also have accompanied police officers to help counsel people in disputes and learn more about the roots of violence. Parishes also can host a gun drop-off program; last summer’s programs took 28 guns off the streets, he said.

Parishes also could host the new Project Safe Surrender, in which an individual with outstanding arrest warrants could get them resolved on the spot at central location featuring representatives of law enforcement, the district attorney’s office, the U.S. Marshalls’ office and judges, Moore said.

“The number one thing is to help us with recruitment of police officers,” Moore said, noting the force needs quality people to be both police officers and role models for young people.

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