Salinas officials joining anti-gang summit in DC

From the Monterey Herald, 3/31/2012: A delegation from Salinas involved in anti-gang efforts is heading to Washington, D.C., next week to participate in a summit on preventing youth violence.

Salinas is one of six cities from across the U.S. participating in the summit, which is part of a White House-sponsored effort designed to share gang-reduction strategies.

The National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, which includes Salinas, San Jose, Boston, Chicago, Detroit and Memphis, has been meeting twice a year since October 2010.

Each city has had a chance to implement their strategies, so next week's summit will be about exchanging information on what is working and what is not, said Salinas Deputy Police Chief Kelly McMillin, who is part of the delegation that includes city and county officials and representatives from the Community Alliance for Safety and Peace.

One strategy that is working in Salinas is a community-building effort in the city's Hebbron neighborhood. Police officials, city and county staff, nonprofits and community members meet once a week to come up with an approach to building peace in the area, said Spencer Critchley, a volunteer with CASP.

"The emphasis was to put structure into what had been a very disorganized neighborhood," McMillin said.

Two police officers have been stationed at the community center since fall.

"Their main function is to reach out and get to know people," Critchley said.

The result is people have been coming to the community center, looking for advice on what to do to improve the neighborhood.

"That's a really exciting sign, to see the trust being built there," he said.

News Item Publication Date: 
Saturday, March 31, 2012