City, county officials discuss gang prevention

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) – The Mayor’s Office, the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department and the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office hosted a public workshop Saturday to educate parents and other community members about gang prevention measures they can put into place in their neighborhoods.

“It’s important for concerned adults and parents, grandparents to know the signs,” said Mitzi Hurst, Executive Director of Neighborhoods in the Mayor’s office.

Those in the crowd learned from experts in gang prevention, how to identify the signs of gang involvement and how to take action to stop or prevent gang-related problems.

“Growing up when I did, gangs were pretty cut and dry. You wore red, you wore blue, it was left or right, the narcotics were marijuana, coke, maybe heroin,” said Metro Police Lt. Michael Elder. “Now, the drugs are off the chart on all the stuff that gangs are using.”

Elder said it’s not as cut and dry as it used to be and isn’t necessarily one sign alone like colors or symbols.

“It’s kind of a building block,” he said, referring to what parents should look for. “You know, ’I see this, do I have a problem, I don’t know. OK, now I see this, let’s look a little deeper. OK, now I’ve got five steps in a row, we’ve got to look into this.”

There were resource tables at the meeting featuring ways to help, including crime prevention programs for youth through the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office and Reach for Youth, Inc., a non-profit agency that offers behavioral counseling, alternatives to expulsion from school, and teen court – all to help teens at a crossroads

Elder said it’s critical for parents to get their children involved and be a part of something constructive.

“Idle minds – bad things happen,” he said. “Get them involved and check the group that you’re wanting them involved in.”

Organizers said the most important factor is for parents to be involved in their children’s lives.

“Parents are the front line of stopping this behavior,” said Hurst. “They have to stand up and assume that role.”

Click here or call (317) 327-3522 to learn more from the Marion County Prosecutor’s Office regarding the following programs:

-Gang Education

-Project Safe: a one-hour presentation about cyberbullying and how to stay safe when using the internet and cell phones

-Choices Not Chances: an interactive online decision tree that teaches youth the consequences of good and bad choices.

-Educating Kids about Gun Violence: Students interact through a video presentation by answering questions related to how they would handle certain scenarios, or what the best choice would be.

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