What should you know about gangs? Here’s what the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network heard tonight

By Tracy Record
West Seattle Blog editor

How widespread are gangs in Seattle and what do you need to know about them in order to stay safe?

The lieutenant who leads the Seattle Police Gang Unit, accompanied by one of his detectives, spoke tonight to the West Seattle Block Watch Captains’ Network, and debunked myths as well as answering questions.

It was the first time a West Seattle group had heard from Gang/Robbery/Fugitives Lt. Dan Whelan since April of last year, when he spoke to the WS Crime Prevention Council (WSB coverage here).

According to Lt. Whelan, the gang unit has four goals:

-Prevent violence; “we don’t want people out there shooting at each other.” He mentioned “proactive patrols” all day on the last day of school in Seattle last Thursday (as well as the two days preceding). “Frequently, as school is closing down, these kids decide ‘I’m not going to see this guy again … I’m going to even things up right now’.”

He said that “in our experience especially in the last couple of days (of school), these kids are going to migrate to Alki” so that’s why the Gang Unit focuses there, and to a lesser degree at Golden Gardens Park.

4th of July coverage will start at 2 pm for the Gang Unit. He mentioned there’s a particular gang that has an annual picnic on the 4th of July “and we’d like to make sure they’re aware that we’re aware they’re having a picnic.” He says they get lots of information via the social-media bragging of gang members. They’ll be patrolling parks in multiple precincts and wind up back at Alki “on preventive patrol” around fireworks time. Again, “the whole idea is to keep people from shooting each other.”

Overall, he said, “July’s a very heavy month for us.”

According to the lieutenant, they know everybody out there “who claims to be a gangbanger – and if we don’t know who they are, it’s our job to find somebody who does.” That “takes away all the anonymity that these kids think they have.” They might see an officer and think s/he doesn’t know they’re a gang member – but when the “G-Unit” shows up, everyone on it knows who they are, so “you can see an immediate change … All of a sudden, the tone and temperature of the crowd changes, and a lot of the bad guys leave because the Gang Unit is there.”

Also, he said, when there’s a shooting death involving a gang member, the first question he’ll ask his team, “When and where’s the funeral? We want to be there.” The Gang Unit will patrol the area because otherwise that kind of gathering might be ripe for other violence. “We’ve been very successful to date.” He says it’s not considered intrusive by the family of the person who was killed, because “they want to bury their loved one in peace.”

He also said many types of crimes wind up being investigated by the Gang Unit “because there’s a strong suspicion that gang members were involved.” But it’s difficult to get people to tell what they’ve seen – “maybe a dozen, two dozen witnesses saw the whole thing, but because of gangland policy ‘don’t snitch,’ nobody will talk to us. … We could solve most of the shootings in Seattle in about 24 hours if people will just tell us what they saw. … But we’re out there trying to prevent these crimes from occurring.”

They also have electronic communication with other law-enforcement agencies/officers in an e-mail system called GETEM. It’s been out there for a while – we found this 2008 reference from outside Seattle. And it’s no secret, Lt. Whelan reassured an attendee who asked at that point if anything confidential would be compromised by our coverage of tonight’s meeting.

He mentioned the years when Seattle had its highest murder rate and how it was more or less warfare between particular gangs. That’s not the way it goes now, he said. Now, it’s more an affiliation with a particular neighborhood – even if they don’t live there – than with a particular gang. Some Seattle neighborhoods have gang members claiming affiliation even if they live, for example, in South King County. On the converse: “There are some individuals who claim South End … but these kids move all over. … It’s not just Seattle. These kids aren’t just sitting around on one streetcorner.”

Their criminal enterprises have expanded into prostitution and different types of drugs, he said – “any way to make a buck.” But, “other than that, these guys are not tough guys, necessarily .. they’re not necessariliy the worst guys in the world that I’d encountered … unless they’re in a group, or you get them cornered …”

One thing Seattle doesn’t have right now, Lt. Whelan said, in response to a question: No serious motorcycle-gang problem right now.

Returning to his unit’s summer plans, he mentioned several big events where they will have a presence, including the Bite of Seattle and the Seafair Torchlight Parade next month.

Another attendee asked: The gang members that caused concerns regarding the last day of school – are they actually students? Yes, he said, they are. And when school starts, the Gang Unit will show up and work on prevention/deterrence all over again.

Det. Rob Thomas, who’s been with the unit five years, was introduced. He gave some more-general information about gangs, and what binds them together – their code, their common symbols, etc. The biggest umbrella groups were founded decades ago and have tens of thousands of people involved around the country.

“Seattle gangs are different compared to what you might see in LA,” he said. As Lt. Whelan had mentioned, the alliances tend to be neighborhood vs. neighborhood – Central District vs. South End, for example. The city has about 160 active, distinct gangs, he said, with thousands of members.

A common question came up again – how do you know when graffiti/tagging is gang-related? Most of that type of vandalism is NOT gang related, Det. Johnson said – “most of what you see around the city is from what we call ‘tagger crews’.” Especially the “bubbly letter” type of tagging. He also mentioned SPD’s fulltime graffiti detective. (But regardless of whether you think it’s gang-related or not, do report it – it’s a crime. Take a photo before painting it out. Here’s how to report it – including an online tool that will require a photo.)

Another question: “What’s a gang activity? How do we know what’s a danger to us, and what (is just targeted at other gang members)? Why are they in a gang?”

Det. Johnson said that the latter is complex – “notoriety” is one reason, looking for fame and attention. “That’s definitely a huge draw among all gang members.” Some also are longing for a family – “they have bad home situations (or) come from broken homes.” Or, “there are just some people who like being criminals … those are the more hard-core gang members.” Gang members could start as early as age 12, he said. Asked about the ethnic makeup of gangs, Det. Johnson said they don’t shake out along ethnic lines in Seattle as much as in other areas.

How can you tell whether someone is a gang member? “We see a lot of people who are claiming this stuff, and I can’t prove it – they’re not ‘card-carrying’ members.” said Lt. Whelan. They can’t flat out declare that someone is a gang member but they can certainly say someone said they were.

Are tennis shoes over wires a sign of gang activity or drug activity? Det. Johnson was asked. No, he said, “that’s an urban legend.”

“How can we help you?” Cooperation, and calling attention to suspicious situations, are big, said the detective. But SW Precinct Community Police Team Officer Jon Kiehn also warned against just calling 911 and saying there are people “who look like they are in a gang.” You need to call 911 and describe the activity you think is criminal. A discussion about 911 dispatchers and calltakers ensued, after one attendee said that her neighborhood is trying to help by reporting activity, but “getting the third degree” when they call in.

The questions asked by a dispatcher, it was explained, are intended to elicit information on why you think a crime is taking place. “But if we’re working specifically with you guys regarding specific cases … to get that third degree, you are shutting down members on that Block Watch” who want to give information.

Det. Johnson said he used to be a dispatcher and explains the amount of stresses they go through with a relative handful for the entire city. “Doesn’t excuse rudeness but … they’re really trying to elicit practical information so they can (send police out there).” They have to have grounds for police to speak to possible suspects, not just “something doesn’t seem right.” (One year ago, WSBWCN featured guest speakers on how the 911 call center works and how to maximize a 911 call – read our story here.)

Gang members’ motto tends to be “get rich or die trying,” Lt. Whelan said toward the end. “As they get older and become more violent, it’s only a matter of time before they shoot someone and we catch them – or they’re going to make a lot of people angry at them and get themselves shot, killed, wounded – if they get into prison as adults, first time, 5 to 10 years .. I guarantee you prison never did anybody any good, you’re (leaving) more angry, more violent, trained in the arts of criminal behavior.” But they’re too old to be gangbangers when they come out, “so they just go into an adult career of crime. That’s basically the gang lifestyle, it’s dead end, it’s not going anywhere, we can’t stop it, it’s bigger than us, the main thing we can do in the Seattle Police Department is keep this from being a ‘free-fire zone’.” But they do that work ethically and lawfully, he said. “We can’t stop (gang activity), we can only interdict it.”

And his reminder: Don’t look at the color of skin or the clothes – look at the behavior – in protecting yourself and assessing risk. Don’t be a victim. Don’t look like a victim. Choose when you’re going to go out. “A lot of these kids are stealing phones and jewelry. Don’t walk around with your white earbuds and your phone, which tells everyone that you have an Apple product. These kids will knock you on your butt, hurt you, for a phone that you paid $500-$600 for and they’re going to sell it for $100, and by the time you wake up in the hospital or whatever, that phone’s going to be (overseas).”

FROM THE CAPTAIN: Precinct commander Capt. Steve Wilske mentioned two officers are now on bikes and focused on areas including Roxhill Park (we saw them at the Morgan Junction Community Festival last Saturday) and 10 more are getting equipped with two wheels – in addition to their regular patrol vehicles – shortly. Two officers are now stationed on Alki for Fridays and Saturdays – “with the nice weather, we’re seeing a lot of people on Alki, and we want to keep a handle on that.” Property crimes “trended up a few weeks ago (and) are back down this week,” Capt. Wilske said, so he’s planning some special data collection focused on repeat offenders. Attendees brought up concerns about 35th/Morgan and Roxhill Park.

REMINDERS: WSBWCN co-leader Deb Greer reminded everyone at the start of the meeting that August 5th is Night Out, and if you haven’t already signed up your block, do it now – that’s what you need to do to get permission to close it for a block party that night (provided you’re not on an arterial).

*Co-leader Karen Berge invited attendees to come say hi while WSBWCN is on site at West Seattle Summer Fest July 11-13 (exact times they’ll be there are TBA) and at Delridge Day on August 9th.

*Deb noted that SPD is not having individual Precinct Picnics this year; last year’s “picnic” was combined with Delridge Day, where the Seattle Police Foundation is likely to sponsor ice cream handed out by SPD personnel this year, according to Capt. Wilske.

WSBWCN meets on the fourth Tuesday, 6:30 pm at the Southwest Precinct – but like many community organizations won’t meet again until September.

36 Replies to "What should you know about gangs? Here's what the West Seattle Block Watch Captains' Network heard tonight"

  • 935 June 24, 2014 (9:46 pm)

    So the police know where this 4th of July barbecue is? Please let the general public know….we can beat them to the shelters. Take the hibachis before they can!
    I bet we could get in front of this gang issue before they even rolled out of their diseased households.

    • WSB June 24, 2014 (9:52 pm)

      935 – while I don’t have the exact quote in my notes, the verb tense among other things suggested to me that they expected to find out, rather than they had already found out.

  • Mike June 24, 2014 (9:56 pm)

    Do you have more detail on the discussion or issues brought up about 35th and Morgan?


    • WSB June 24, 2014 (10:05 pm)

      Unfortunately that is when the short-lived suspected-house-fire call broke out and I had to run out of the room to call HQ. Usually we can cover breaking news during meetings without missing a beat, but circumstances didn’t work out this time. Deborah Vandermar, president of the High Point Neighborhood Association, was among those in attendance at the meeting, and maybe she’d have info. Sorry! – TR

  • alkimom June 24, 2014 (10:23 pm)

    I’m not sure if it was the police presence or the fact that we had so many families there and that all the little kids running around made the location no longer attractive to sketchy people, but the last day of school- into the afternoon and evening, was beautiful and totally family friendly at Alki. It was fabulous. We’ve spent the last several years there with our elementary aged kids on the last day of school, and always had to leave around 6PM due to strange behavior and kind of a scary crowd. This year, it was totally blissful. Thank you everyone for claiming Alki Beach as a family friendly space :) And thank you SPD for all that you did to allow our families to have a memorable and safe last day of school. We were so proud of West Seattle and our community- what an awesome place to live!!

  • Mike June 24, 2014 (10:38 pm)

    Good, glad to read this. The more SPD is around, especially during peak day/times gang members will be lingering, the better. This is when I like my taxes paying for SPD’s payroll. Taxes at work, good stuff.
    For those with an Android device, get https://www.google.com/android/devicemanager and if anyone steals it use it to track it using GPS and wipe it clean before they get your info on it.
    I also use https://www.lookout.com/ which will snap a pic of the person trying to unlock the phone if they try 3 times and fail to do it right. It then sends me an email with the pic and GPS location of where it was taken.
    That way you have a love note to send the thief later with their picture on it.

  • Dominic Pricco June 24, 2014 (10:54 pm)

    This must be the biggest bunch of B.S. I have ever read. Unfortunately, I have experience with gangs that involve a day in my life I will never be able to forget. Wrong place wrong time. Court, lawyers, reconstructive surgeries… I feel like this is a joke reading this whole article. If this is all the police have to offer its lies. If the WSB is going to parade this infofmation, shame on you. Gangs are not complicated. The police know where most of them live. Step up to the plate!

  • Eric1 June 24, 2014 (11:04 pm)

    It is sad state in society that even the police admit that there are too many lost kids to reverse the trend. Not that it is their fault, it is just that not enough people care enough for these kids to keep them from becoming feral members of society. No parents, no money, no education and unfortunately no hope.
    Society and the media have desensitized many to the plight of these kids. Even I admit that I don’t even care about “them” anymore. It is easier for me to isolate my family from the problems of “them” than to exert time and energy helping “them” be better. Our society is sad indeed.

  • Mookie June 25, 2014 (12:53 am)

    Seriously, Dominic? “If the WSB is going to parade this infofmation, shame on you.”

    They are reporting what was said at a public community meeting. No embellishment, no editorializing it. Maybe you prefer news organizations that only report what you want to hear? If so, I suggest you visit those sites instead.

  • Diane June 25, 2014 (1:45 am)

    glad to hear Officer Jon Kiehn is back
    re the rest of the story; just wow

  • Eric June 25, 2014 (5:19 am)

    The thing about the “gangs” here is that most of them are just wannabe little punks. Unfortunately that can be even more dangerous because these punks are carrying around a fiction that they are the real deal and so look for drama or trouble to “legitimize” this fiction.

    On a side note, I’d really wish that people who are in no financial position and/or who are emotionally and maturely stunted to stop having kids, because more often than not the kids are going to keep the cycle continuing.

  • blockedpunt June 25, 2014 (7:21 am)

    I am also curious to know if the police are aware of the criminal activity that regularly occurs near 35th and Morgan in the Gasco/Walgreens parking lot. I’ve personally witnessed drug transactions at least 2x. Not to mention the constant loitering at that location. I am sure the police are aware of the situation but I’m wondering what can be done about this nuisance property.

  • wsn00b June 25, 2014 (8:37 am)

    @blockedpunt: 35th/Morgan is one of the sketchiest places in West Seattle. The body language of most of the crowd there is worrisome (like the detective said: not color/clothes but body language). We used to get our prescriptions at Walgreens there but have moved them to Rite Aid on California – a longer drive for us but we feel safer there.

    Also all this article tells me is to avoid Alki in July.

  • teacher June 25, 2014 (8:48 am)

    ALL gang members are wanna be punks. They wanna be loved and have been rejected by their parents and friends their whole lives. That’s why they turn to something that they think will make them into a powerful person. They think they have no other way of finding power. And I think Eric is right that the cycle needs to be stopped. I think the only way to stop it, is for our communities to raise children as if we are that “village”. These kids come to school with very little emotional skills to cope with their horrible home-lives, and many times the only people caring for them and trying to steer them onto good paths are teachers. Our communities in West Seattle need to take a stand, like it sounds like is what happened at Alki beach on the last day of school, and let it be known that gangs are not cool in anyway. They are not getting that message from their family, or movies, or video games…

    • WSB June 25, 2014 (8:58 am)

      Off-topic note to “teacher” – thank you for your work. As parents of a new high-school graduate, we’ve just completed a 15-year glimpse into what you and your colleagues deal with, and the difference that can be made – but you indeed can’t do it alone.

  • Eric June 25, 2014 (9:37 am)

    I remember raising concerns about the 35th and Morgan area about a year ago only to be told by someone replying that I wasn’t living in the “real world” and kids will be kids.

  • Julie June 25, 2014 (10:38 am)

    I think we need to find ways to give kids real power so they don’t need to resort to gang membership. It seems possible to me that our current inflexible education model, expecting kids to stay in school for the first 18 years of their lives, and making it hard for them to return to school after that, coupled with child labor laws meant to protect children from exploitation, might not be quite right. I wonder if allowing kids to work full-time for some periods of their adolescence, and making it easy and natural for them to return to school when they’re ready, might help them grow up mentally healthy, in the secure knowledge that they have a valued contribution to make.

  • Gonzo June 25, 2014 (11:26 am)

    Wow look at all of the gang experts on here. It’s like listening to Fox (or MSNBC) News pundits cackling, all from their comfortable armchairs. Apparently there is no longer a need for real police experts, who study gang activity up close to weigh in.
    More middle class/rich ignorance.
    -Former gang member from the hood

  • Todd June 25, 2014 (11:38 am)

    It’s unfortunate, but true. There’s not much to be done as long as political forces focus on being reactionary and don’t address the main reasons gangs take hold of kids at an early age. (social status, lack of adult supervision, poverty, etc.)
    I went to high school at Rainier Beach in the early 80’s when we started the busing programs. I lived in WS and went across town to the south end. After high school, I worked in the valley for several years at a shop where the Crips and Bloods would leave messages for each other on our walls – that we would constantly paint over. Then the BGD’s came in…and other ethnic-associated gangs.
    I witnessed two drive-by shootings and had my life threatened when I identified a local tagger to the police.
    At that time, WS was still pretty isolated from all this, but it was definitely happening in other parts of Seattle. When the SPD gang unit was organized, I was still working over there and talked to the first officers on that squad (it was only like 2 or 3 guys then).
    We didn’t even have a precinct in WS at that time – we were still served by the South Precinct and they would have to cross a bridge to get over here.
    The best thing the police can do is to try to get local kids to identify the known gang bangers (which is a no-no in that world) and try to anticipate possible hot-spots (just like the article points out), but there is no way to patrol every bus stop, sidewalk, or house, so we all must protect ourselves. Stay alert, be smart, avoid situations that may put you at risk. Look up from your tablet or phone, be aware of your surroundings, speak out and work with your neighbors to watch out for one another…help kids who need another adult in their life, go to the community centers.
    Most criminals want easy targets and usually gunfire is just to settle disputes – but you don’t want to antagonize…especially the younger ones who are trying to “prove” themselves
    As long as the economic and social situations exist that make being in a gang the preferred way to feel accepted, the gangs will continue.
    I don’t want to be a downer, but we need to be realists.

  • Eric June 25, 2014 (12:24 pm)

    What makes you think everyone weighing in is rich or middle class Gonzo? I grew up in poor neighborhoods in Vallejo with a broken family, having to learn to fight, living in apartment buildings that should have condemned and at one apartment, the room my sister and I shared was the closet. There are plenty of poor and working class people that feel the same way.

    – former resident from “the hood”

  • Diane June 25, 2014 (12:29 pm)

    child psychologist here; agree with teacher; thank you; every child comes into this world wanting to be valued and loved; when they don’t get it at home, especially when they get the opposite at home, they seek love/acceptance elsewhere; we really do need more of “it takes a village” philosophy, and to stop just demonizing children who have been lost to gangs; we need to stop the bad cycles of crime, violence, drugs, guns, and find solutions to start new positive cycles for children/families; easy to say; VERY hard to do

  • JoAnne June 25, 2014 (3:05 pm)

    I agree with Dominic. The attitude of police seems just a bit cavalier. They’re not necessarily the worst guys…Really?
    We can’t stop gang activity…Really?
    We know they are planning to gather in a public place, but we do not plan to warn the public…Really?
    Don’t look at race…Really?
    Why are known gang members even allowed to attend public schools with innocent children? Why are they entitled to free education at public expense?

  • teacher June 25, 2014 (4:27 pm)

    So your solution is to expel gang members from school? The place where they can gain skills to avoid staying in a gang? …Really??

    Somethings that could help are police outreach programs in high risk neighborhoods that begin in elementary school, and school funding for counselors at all schools. These are kids that should not be excluded unless they they break the school rules. For the most part, teachers can predict who is at risk of joining gangs at older ages, because of their coping skills that they do or do not posses in elementary school. If you look at the most current research on bullying from Tracy Ludwig (author and researcher), you will see what I am talking about.

  • justme June 25, 2014 (5:05 pm)

    It’s easy to blame parents and shame households where gangsters are raised but I know from experience a lot of these kids come from great homes with loving parents. Peer pressure is very prevalent in these situations.

  • Bradley June 25, 2014 (6:18 pm)

    @Teacher – Gang members come from very good families, too. There are countless kids who turn to violent crime and criminal organizations who are from the best of families and from mid-to-upper income homes. There are also countless kids from broken families and impoverished homes who never commit crimes and grow up to become upstanding, productive citizens. One cannot generalize on this issue. As far as schools go, districts MUST expell gang members who attack their fellow students and blatantly break school safety and violence policies. Schools must be made safe for the students who are not involved in violent criminal activity from those who are. Violent students should be transfered to a school in the district that is set aside solely for troubled, dangerous offenders.

  • Bradley June 25, 2014 (6:25 pm)

    @alkimom – Way to go! Good for you and all the families who went to Alki that day.

  • K June 25, 2014 (8:23 pm)

    Well… let’s see.. No one asked my opinion but I will give it anyway, that is what happens when you turn 40 yrs. I have lived in one murder capital city while it was in a frenzy, have family and family stories from another US murder capital city, lived also in one of the worst neighborhoods in the country growing up and landed in West Seattle. The love and caring nature of a family member saved me from dying or worse in some of the situations and something else protected me in other situations.

    After going through all of that… in little, bity West Seattle Washington I was again in fear.. more fear than ever. What saved me was myself, my relationships and my smarts.
    I am now a grown up professional and I really believe that “the hood” can be anywhere… it’s all how you handle it/ deal with it. And not sure that it matters but I am a 5 feet tall female.

    I think it has to do with situational awareness. I don’t know if I am allowed to say this or not… but for all who have been there and seen that (real kind of folks) you might read Gavin DeBecker’s book, called The Gift of Fear. It’s pretty insightful in my opinion.

    By the way I haven’t even watched the video.. just read your comments and lived in Seattle for 20 plus years, West Seattle for 11 yrs.

  • JoB June 25, 2014 (9:12 pm)

    Why would we expect kids to be any different when bullying and breaking the law is ok as long as you get away with it is acceptable adult behavior.

    if we want to teach them something else..
    we need to show them something else..

  • SJ2 June 25, 2014 (9:37 pm)

    If they want to clean up 35th and Morgan they need to close that gasco/minimart. Does it even sell gas anymore? For years it did not. I went in there once and noticed very sketchy items for sale, such as a small scale (for drugs??).

  • Mike June 25, 2014 (10:09 pm)

    “Why are known gang members even allowed to attend public schools with innocent children?”
    Because everyone is innocent until proven guilty. You’re not guilty by association. Welcome to the USA, home of the free… even if you don’t agree with everyone getting a honest fair shot at it.

  • Laura June 26, 2014 (12:03 am)

    Thanks SPD for the update. You are appreciated. Have a great summer!

  • Fran June 26, 2014 (7:41 am)

    I am a fan of the police, but the speaker at this event sounds like he likes the gangsters, there is no hope to shut them down and if one of them punches you in the face and takes your phone…that’s on you.
    I want the the top cop to say just the opposite: these people are the dregs of society, they need to be targeted until they no longer participate in gang activity and the police are here to help the citizens stop getting punched in the face and their phones stolen….
    They can’t to everything but they need to work towards 100% gang removal…not walk in here and tell us how little crime is in this area when we all know its a big issue in this part of town.

  • T Rex June 26, 2014 (11:10 am)

    Closing the Gasco is not the answer, the low income housing unit right behind it is the problem.

  • DeanGoHawks June 26, 2014 (11:02 pm)

    You guys so critical of the police forget that the Seattle cops were just spanked hard by the feds for being “too tough” on suspects. Now some of you think they can just shut the gangs down by force? Nope, it doesn’t work that way.
    Hinted at but true, gangs are embedded in our society and culture (all sub cultures) and are well organized.
    Gangs run the spectrum from street “soldiers” (often teens) on up to captains, comanders and presidents – there is a strong hierarchy.
    In some US cities, even the police and local governments have gang members in their midst. Power and greed know no bounds.
    If you really want to reduce the power and influence of gangs you must first understand what you are up against and then be ready to dedicate your life changing not just your neighborhood but how humanity treats itself.
    The problem is MASSIVE, the cops can’t save the whole world. People need to be awakened – more compassion, more equality, more justice, more shared prosperity, more caring, more wisdom and more intelligence. Less greed, less selfishness, less glam and bling and stardom. Less abuse, less violent parenting, less ignorance and shortsightedness.
    Its a tough job and it starts with YOU (ME) right NOW! Sorry, no easy answers in life.

  • denise June 27, 2014 (9:02 am)

    Very concerned about 35th and Morgan. Clean it up. Who owns that gasco? This has been a problem for 20 years. Crack corner is what my family calls it. I would like to see some action taken

  • BooneLee June 27, 2014 (3:41 pm)

    Thank you DeanGoHawks (go Hawks!), I must agree. I appreciate all the efforts put in by the SPD to help combat the gang problems in our city, but they are only really able to treat the symptoms, not the cause.
    Our attitudes towards many of the kids involved is deplorable. At 15 somebody may look more like an adult, and try to act like one. They start seeking their own identity and independence. But they aren’t adults. They’re still kids- impressionable, moldable and very very vulnerable.
    Caring about your community doesn’t mean shutting them out or putting them down. Calling them dregs, trash, etc reinforces the thought that they are outcasts. An outcast person has no reason to take your safety or well being into consideration. Why should they value a life that doesn’t value theirs?
    While adults are also a huge part of the gang problem, the best way to help stifle the issue would be to stop breeding children who become gang related adults. Individual “bad parents” and bad situations don’t breed these wannabe gang members, WE DO. It truly takes a village to raise a child, and a it takes a village to ignore a child and limit their options and positive influences.
    These people that we’re talking about are still people. They are our neighbors, and part of our community. They have thoughts, feelings, hopes, dreams and hearts just like any of us. The difference is they make bad choices when they’re too young to say no, and those specific choices put them in groups that can cost them their lives to try and get out of.
    A single involved, caring and available role model can go a lloooonnggg way. That six year old who is always out riding his bike at 11pm on a Tuesday? Instead of just cursing his parents, ask yourself how you can help him grow. Become involved and lessen your chances of him being the person who robs you ten years later.

Sorry, comment time is over.