Report Urges Broad-Based Effort To Stop the Spread of Gangs

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Thursday, June 30, 2005

The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors recently received a report on gang prevention that outlined recommendations and accomplishments regarding the county's efforts to combat gang activity.

The report, which draws on suggestions made at a conference on gangs earlier this year, was put together by the county Coordinating Council on Gang Prevention and the Gang Prevention Steering Committee.

"We have been able to make significant strides," said Bob Bermingham, Fairfax County gang prevention coordinator, in a statement. "By drawing on the extensive network of Fairfax County services and reaching out to the community and businesses, we have built a solid base for a comprehensive effort to attack the gang issue on all fronts -- which is what it will take."

Here are highlights from the report:

Fairfax County has long been one of the safest jurisdictions in the country. One of the few clouds on that bright horizon is the rise of gang activity in the region. Gangs and their activities challenge the county's fundamental mission to keep every neighborhood and community safe. The problem of gangs must be combated and the county's children prevented from undertaking this destructive and dangerous lifestyle.

Although gangs pose a significant threat to public safety, this is actually a community issue that should be addressed through cross-agency, community-wide initiatives that strengthen and improve collaboration on county, school, private, faith-based and community-based gang prevention, intervention and suppression strategies.

Accomplishments, Recommendations

· Six youths have been hired by the Department of Community and Recreation Services as summer employees to focus on community outreach and program evaluation at the James Lee Community Center in Falls Church and the Area II Human Services office. In addition, they will work with staff to develop strategies to increase the number of at-risk youth in summer programs.

· The Northern Virginia Gang Task Force intervention and prevention committee has authorized and funded a regional assessment of gang activity, which will include Fairfax County.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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