Boston Reverend Successful in Efforts to Curb Gang Violence - 8 News NOW

Boston Reverend Successful in Efforts to Curb Gang Violence

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Strategies were shared Wednesday at a gang forum held by Metro Police. Strategies were shared Wednesday at a gang forum held by Metro Police.

LAS VEGAS -- Police have identified more than 300 gangs in Las Vegas. While it's a problem across the country, some cities are having success in reducing gang violence.

Strategies were shared Wednesday at a gang forum held by Metro Police. One of the solutions that came up was having churches and police work together in a partnership to stop gang violence.

According to Reverend Jeffrey Brown from Boston, many young gang members are just kids with tough exteriors who need direction.

"General public perception is that if a kid is in a gang they're a bad kid. Nothing can be further from the truth," Brown said.

He runs RECAP, Rebuilding Every Community Around Peace, in Boston. He's in Las Vegas to work with Metro Police on finding solutions to the gang problem. Brown says his ideas have worked.

"We got together as a faith group and decided to come out of our sanctuary and meet the youth where they were," he said.

Brown says he was able to get church leaders to talk with gang members.

"You have to be prepared to listen and not preach. Because this is not about preaching, it's about talking with the youth and saying how can we work together and find a way out of this."

Brown says he found the majority of gang members didn't even want to be in the gang. They just needed help and direction achieving what they really wanted to do.

"There's a vast majority of young people that are loosely associated with a gang," said Pastor Troy Martinez, East Vegas Christian Center.

Martinez says Reverend Brown's plan can work in Las Vegas and police partnership with churches is critical. He said a church in Sacramento invited two rival gangs to talk. Gang members, on both side, said they wanted peace. Martinez said for nine months following the meeting, there was no violence between those two gangs.

He suggests that police officers make more of an effort to get out of their patrol cars and into the community. "And sometimes we do that simultaneously so that we're out there together," he said. "They're not going to come to us. We have to go to them."

Brown claims the plan saved the lives of hundreds of Boston kids who used to be gang members.

"Youth, who are out there, contrary to popular belief, Brown said. "Really would like their circumstances to be different."

 

 

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