March 29, 2006
Virginia's Attorney General was in Charlottesville to help kick off a gang prevention program sponsored by the Charlottesville/Albemarle Boys and Girls Club.
The Delinquency Prevention Initiative is made in partnership with the Virginia Attorney General's office along with the Charlottesville/Albemarle Boys and Girls Club. The program will focus on how to prevent at risk kids from joining gangs and help those involved in gangs get out.
"The model has proven to be pretty affective. We're still working obviously, in places like Richmond it's kind of the pilot program, but everywhere it's been implemented we're seeing good results," Attorney General Robert “Bob” McDonnell explained.
McDonnell helped kick off Charlottesville's event along with several members of the community, all who hope for more success.
"I think it's a wonderful program to have and I think it's wonderful to have cross-agency training and the Boys and Girls Club is thrilled to be leading the effort in dealing with youths who are at risk" said Edie Patterson with the Boys and Girls Club.
The program will work with kids who are identified as "at risk"--that would be kids who have family members in gangs, kids who skip school, as well as students who attend schools with known gangs.
"There is an issue of gangs and gang-related violence across the Commonwealth, and we need to acknowledge it, and more importantly we need to talk about not just an enforcement piece, but a prevention piece as well," said Charlottesville Police Chief Tim Longo.
Organizers want to help present gang members leave their gangs, as well as help kids who have been in jail re-enter the community with the help of the Boys and Girls Club.
“Then young people will turn away from lawlessness and gang violence and turn to things that are more productive,” said McDonnell. “That is just a win-win for our state, our nation, [and] our communities.”
National training for the program in Charlottesville will start in June. The program itself will begin development this summer.