Mount Olive, N.C. (WNCT) – Community members and law enforcement officers across the state are putting their heads together to fight the growing gang problem.
“Some cities and communities want to think that they don’t have gangs but they do and people need to identify that first,” said Laterrie Ward.
Over 300 people attended the 10th Annual Eastern North Carolina Gang Conference at the University of Mount Olive.
Rouse said, “Education never stops and it never stops for the people on the street and it doesn’t stop for us either. If you’re not educated then you are falling behind and it’s a growing problem and it’s a growing trend and we need to be in front of it instead of behind it.”
Kinston Police Gang Unit Sergeant, Chad Rouse, says it’s important to learn how other departments around the state are combatting the problem.
Rouse said, “The bottom line is if they are using something that working, we need to use it. Why re-invent the wheel.”
Rouse says he realizes some gang members start initiations when they’re as young as nine or ten. He wants to show kids the how they can be a positive role model in society.
“To learn the world they are in, to learn why they are deciding to go that way and to show the alternatives and tell them they don’t have to follow that lifestyle,” Rouse said.
Both Rouse and Ward say they learned how important building community relationships are to solving the gang issue in their communities.
“If we can take one of those students and deter them from becoming a gang member, that’s excellent,” Ward said.