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Gang initiative has no re-offenders

June 13, 2011

Area police leaders say a local initiative to stop violent crimes is seeing positive results.

Since the Catawba County Gang Initiative began last month, none of the participants involved in the program have re-offended.

“I consider it a great success because our ultimate goal is to have these folks not re-offend,” said Newton Police Chief Don Brown. “If we don’t hear from them again, and they don’t re-offend, then it’s a success.”

The initiative, comprised of area police and local citizens, takes violent offenders from the community and offers them a second chance, said Catawba County Gang Initiative Coordinator Charles Mackey.

“It’s really unique and really fair, but it’s not soft at the same time,” Mackey said. “We give them the resources that can help them get out of their situation.”

The initiative’s success is rooted in what Mackey terms “call-ins,” an intervention-like activity where offenders are brought before police, local citizens and their family members.

The initiative held its first call-in last month, summoning 17 local and violent offenders to one location in the county. Out of the 17 summoned, 15 appeared. Attending the call-in is part of each offender’s parole, so the two offenders who did not appear violated parole, Mackey said.

“Once we bring them into the call-in, we tell them they are identified,” Mackey said. “We want them to take this as their warning.

We are not going to tolerate the violence, but we do see them as being a productive part of the community. We also tell them that this message is for them to take back to their group.”

Mackey said law enforcement “all the way up to the federal Drug Enforcement Agency” attends the call-ins.

Claremont Police Chief Gerald Tolbert said all the police chiefs in the county attended the call-in.

“We talked to all of them and explained to them that if they did something wrong, we would be coming down hard on them,” Tolbert said.

“I think they understood that we meant business.”

Despite area law enforcement’s heavy involvement, Mackey said the community’s voice is usually much stronger.

“The important part of this is that we have the community involved,” Mackey said. “We have people from the community speaking. We have a person who has maybe lost a child through group activity. It kind of shocks them that you have a true unity between the community and the police. We try to get their significant others, like their grandparents or family, too.”

After the call-ins, the initiative provides opportunities such as anger management therapy, job skill training and counseling to the targeted offenders. Out of 15 offenders at the first call-in, eight made contact with the initiative for the additional resources.

Now, only one of the targeted offenders is “taking heed” of the resources, Mackey said.

“He’s actually at a point in the mentoring where we are taking him to schools,” Mackey said. “We are helping him with references in regards to getting a job.”

Tolbert said he wishes more of the offenders would take advantage of the initiative’s resources, but still thinks the program is a success.

“ If we save one, it’s worth it,” Tolbert said. “If we don’t have any reoffend, then it’s well worth it. We would have liked to have a few more of them take advantage of what we offered, but so far, the one’s that we have talked to have done pretty good.”

Conover Police Chief Steve Brewer said the initiative gives offenders a way out.

“They can’t use the excuse of not having any means to get out of it,” Brewer said. “It’s a process that they’ll have to go though, and it takes commitment from them.”

Getting the community involved

The gang initiative is not the only group hoping to quell crime numbers in the county. Mackey said several community deterrent groups are also starting up to help give violent offenders alternative resources.

Catawba County Citizens Against Violence will be an organization solely for citizens to work with violent offenders in the community. This will not be a law enforcement-driven, but rather a program that will be “handed off to the community” eventually, Mackey said. Despite the program’s community focus, the group will still be monitored by law enforcement, Brewer said.

Mackey said the initiative is also starting an ages 16-25 mentoring basketball program.

“It’s about having a platform that we can speak to them through what they enjoy—basketball,” Mackey said.

Mackey said the basketball program is in its “final stages.”

The gang initiative, community group and basketball program are all modeled after deterrent strategy started in High Point.

“We picked it because of its success,” Mackey said. “To be proactive, they have had a 40-plus percent sustained decrease in violence, and it just flat out works. Because of its success, it’s gone from a program to a strategy.”

Mackey said with guidance from High Point’s program and continued involvement from the community, gang activity in Catawba County can be deterred.

“We have gangs, no doubt about it,” Mackey said. “But the good thing is when you’re proactive against it and don’t let them get organized…and you can have some control.”


GANGS versus gangshe freakin gloves off

June 14, 2011 by Backbone (not verified), 3 years 49 weeks ago
Comment: 448

There is a big dng difference between a grouping of malcontent and doped up youths,black or white (lets call them "gang") and the highly organized, heavily armed, Narco-terrorist GANGS who are spreading their insurrection from the south-west border right to N.C. This america's 4th war and it will be fought right here. If you think these guys will be impressed or scared by the absurd tactics of local law enforcment you are foolish. As for the "gangs" it is simple, when they commit crimes, lockem up! Take away their liberties and some will learn to comply, some want and you keep ratcheiting up the punishments. We have grown tired of placating these offenders. The population is aging and has no interest in rehabilitation anymore. Either these idiots comply with social norms and morals or they go behind bars. That is why we pay the taxes, for our protection. If they dont want to learn, to heck with 'em, so quit wasting time and tax dollars in schools trying to change them. How much money is being spent on 17 gangbangers? That is lunacy. I dentify, Arrest, Prosecute and incarcerate! Its simple!

As for the GANGS, the solution is this:
a. SECURE the BORDERS firmly.
c. Destroy the safe havens in MEXICO where the terrorist attacks are launched. (if you dont think what is going on on the border is not a insurgency, then wake up and aska Texan!)
d. PROSECUTE the employers and landlords who hire and provide shelter to illegals out of the bounds of legality and dignity! (Are you listening to me guys, you know who you are, especially the owners of property leased to hundreds and hundreds of illegals in SOUTH NEWTON!)

Take some money fromt eh fire department, that they are wasting and give it to the police and round up these creeps!

1) Since the Catawba County

June 14, 2011 by GomerPy739 (not verified), 3 years 49 weeks ago
Comment: 447

1) Since the Catawba County Gang Initiative began last month, none of the participants involved in the program have re-offended.
"If we don’t hear from them again, and they don’t re-offend, then it’s a success.”
--Are we truly going to try and start statistics and begin our bragging rights a month into this? A little too early don't you think? Have we considered the fact that they are just getting better and/or moving on to other locations to conduct their 'business'? Or they are just finding others to do their dirty work so they don't appear to be re-offending?
2) I do love the idea of teh "call-ins". I think it pins the gang bangers with a certain amount of respsonsibility knowing that they are identified as such and that they are being watched. However, as seen in other cities after a short amount of time they begin to outsource their work for other gang members who aren't identified or begin to use the "work" that needs to be done as initiations in the gang. Therefore strengthening the numbers; however disorganized it may be at the time.
3) 1 out of 15 is "taking heed" of the resources? Granted...I'm all down for "if we can only save one..." mentality but this is different. This is my home..this is my community. This is where if the community were truly involved with it's children we could deter them from being in these environments. We wouldn't have to rely on law enforcement to pick up where good parenting should have existed.
4) They will always, always, always use the excuse of not having any means to get out of it. Especially, when all they know is the gang and they can't see beyond it. If you haven't been afforded opportunities within your life and all you know is gang banging, drugs, and whatever else...the concept of not having to be in a gang is as foreign as the reasons of joining a gang are for your average white middle class kid. So, yes...yes, they can use that excuse because alot of times it is their truth. To attempt to get out of a gang for some of them (not all) means to have their life threatened and sometimes these threats become realities. Even here in Newton.
5) I hope to goodness that the quote "It's about having a platform that we can speak to them through what they enjoy-basketball" is some ridiculous paraphrase that this writer concocted and not what Mackey actually said. Because that is just about the most stereo-typical, ignorant, and ridiculous phrase I've ever read. Basketball...really? All gang bangers like basketball and if you give them basketball tournaments to play in that will help our gang problem because it's a platform we can speak to them through? If only we'd thought of that years ago...we could have avoided this whole mess.

Please, don't get me totally wrong...I am glad that our community law enforcement and community leaders have done something instead of sitting by like so many other communities have while things go spiraling out of control. But I keep reading all these articles about the statistics and blah blah. How about actually printing a way that citizens could get involved? This shouldn't be just a law enforcement effort...your entire community has to be behind it to help support the law enforcement officers. And as a writer of this article you should know better than to print such stereotypical answers as shown here. These are all answers that I expect to be read at some stupid news conference.

It's too soon to believe that a program like this is truly working...besides, my neighborhood just got more graffiti and I've yet to see it covered up or removed in the past month that it's been there. Granted, it's too early for me to figure out if it's already connected to an established gang or not but for sure it was done by you're "wannabe's" and "wannabe's" are just "gonna-be's" in disguise.

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