KINSTON, N.C. (WNCT) – On Monday, the city of Kinston held a meeting to bring religious leaders and the police together for the sake of combatting crime.
The event was held at the Woodmen Community Center and was held with the hope of easing gang related violence throughout Kinston.
Sargent Chad Rouse works with the Kinston Police Department.
“With the violence that we have with the city of Kinston and the county of Lenoir, basically what can we do to combat it” said Rouse.
That was the question people were gathered to answer.
The meeting brought together church, city, and police leaders to have an open dialogue on the city’s crime.
Sargent Rouse said the image of the typical gang member has changed.
“We’re looking at kids ages ten to seventeen,” Rouse said. “They are as young as ten wanting to be a part of this social network.”
Rouse said children are increasingly becoming influenced to join gangs.
“Because of social media today, the stereotype of gangs being locked down to a four or five block radius is not true anymore,” he said. “Because of social media these kids can connect with each other throughout counties, throughout towns even in other states.”
The city saw 60 cases involving kids between 10 and 15 years old, within the last year alone.
“They have no problem communicating because of social media so the boundaries are no longer there,” Rouse said. “It’s not a color it’s not economics it does not matter it’s all in a social network”
Rouse said it’s often hard for parents to accept their child could be involved.
“A lot of parents will say well not my child. I know what my child does on Facebook,” said Rouse. “But a lot of times we ask them well what about his second page? Did you even know he had one? How about his back page or how about his twitter.”
Monday’s event was the first of its kind as the police look to forward their strategy of policing through the work of the community.
“There are 300 churches in the city of Kinston,” said Rouse. “We need everyone to come together. It doesn’t need to be one group or another group or this church is in charge. As a unit we have to come together and if we don’t we stand apart.”
Rouse says he hopes to hold events like this in the future.
It’s all a part of Chief Alonzo Jayne’s plan to increase the effectiveness of community policing.