Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk gathered with members of the Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force to release a plan for a community-wide response to the complex problems associated with gangs in our community.
“Dane County is unique in many ways, and we are fortunate to live here for a wide variety of reasons. And there are ways in which we are not so unique. For example, we are affected by the presence and appeal that gangs have for some of our young people. Like many places in the country, gangs are not a new phenomenon, but the nature of gangs is changing. The Dane County Youth Gang Task Force report points out that there is a significant increase in the number of violent and other serious crimes committed by young people. For example, crimes of aggression such as battery made up 37% of crimes committed by girls in 1997 and 62% of crimes committed by girls in 2004. We must continue to come together as a community in smarter and stronger ways to prevent gang participation before youth become involved, and to respond appropriately and effectively with those who are gang involved,” said Falk.
The Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force is made up of representatives of the Dane County Department of Human Services (DCDHS) Delinquency Services unit, Project H.U.G.S., DCDHS Community Prevention Program, Dane County Juvenile Court, Dane County Neighborhood Intervention Program, Madison Police Department, DCDHS Data Consultants, Dane County Sheriff’s Office, and the Madison Metropolitan School District.
The Task Force report contains information on the nature of gangs and their status in our community; data and anecdotal information that adds to our understanding of gangs; a summary of community efforts to date; factors that contribute to gang involvement; and recommendations for confronting the many faceted challenge of gangs in our community.
“The first recommendation is to expand the Dane County Youth Prevention Task Force to include, among others, a representative of the County Executive’s Office. I have designated Ken Haynes, one of my executive assistants, to represent me in this very important work. Ken has worked on gang-related issues for many years and was my
liaison to the Task Force as it authored this report. Another recommendation calls for an Early Intervention Services unit that is part of the Dane County Neighborhood Intervention Program. The 2006 county budget, that I signed on November 10, 2005, responds to this recommendation by adding two full-time gang squad positions to the Neighborhood Intervention Program. In addition, each Dane County Department of Human Services Delinquency Prevention unit in the county will designate one staff person to be part of a specialized gang unit. These efforts, along with others outlined in this report that involve a broad range of community partnerships, will provide Dane County with positive approaches to tough and persistent problems.
“Special thanks to Stephen Blue, Dane County Department of Human Services Delinquency Services Manager, and Kathy Sorenson, Program Director Project H.U.G.S., for co-chairing the Dane County Youth Gang Prevention Task Force. I am confident that we will continue to work as a community to face problems that are not confined to geography, race, ethnicity or economic status,” said Falk.
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