All-Points Plan Needed to Quell Youth Gangs
September 20, 2007
Public Safety team, Gang-Free School Zones, among task force recommendations
Madison – The region must answer emerging youth gangs with a comprehensive plan featuring a youth committee, a Public Safety Coordination Team and transition programs to successfully ease young offenders back into the community.
Those are among the key recommendations delivered today to Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and Madison Mayor Dave Cieslewicz from the Enhanced Youth Gang Task Force, capping more than one year of intensive study and examination involving community and school leaders and experts.
“All of the recommendations and study results included in these 96 pages will be reviewed and considered for implementation as we all work together to find solutions to the complex issue of gangs,” Falk said, adding her thanks for the many hours of hard work from the task force. “I will make this report must-reading as I complete the 2008 county budget for aspects we can act upon immediately.”
“Addressing the gang issue in our community must be a central part of our overall approach to public safety,” said Cieslewicz, who last week issued a six-point Mayor’s Public Safety Initiative. “This report gives us a roadmap for responding in a comprehensive, effective manner.”
Appointed as co-chairs in May 2006 by Cieslewicz and Falk, former Madison East High School principal Milt McPike and former Madison Assistant Police Chief turned Madison Metropolitan School District Security Officer Luis Yudice co-led the panel that crafted the comprehensive plan involving prevention, intervention, suppression and re-entry crafted from information gathered from public listening sessions, data and conversations with experts.
Among the recommendations is a call for a Youth Committee on Gang Prevention, including tapping this valuable resource for insight crucial to other prevention steps sought by the panel.
Enhanced employment opportunities for youth also is urged by forging partnerships with businesses and the trades known for apprenticeship programs.
The panel also is recommending the creation of the Public Safety Coordination Team including county and city law enforcement agencies joining with the state and schools to develop intervention and public safety plans. This could include ongoing gang training for law enforcement and establishing opportunities for law enforcement to engage with gang members and other targeted youth at non-enforcement activities such as midnight basketball, after-school events, job training activities and more.
And, in the spirit of drug-free school zones, the panel of government, school, business, faith-based and non-profit groups also is suggesting the creation of Gang-free School Zones to create safer learning environments free of stress and violence.
The report is available online on the Dane County Department of Human Services’ Web site: http://www.danecountyhumanservices.org/otherreports.htm
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Jose M. Sentmanat, Office of the County Executive, (608) 266-3197
Joanne Haas, Office of the County Executive (608) 267-8823
George Twigg, Office of Madison Mayor, (608)266-4860