Walla Walla-area gangs focus of study group

The study group's latest project seeks to prevent or reduce gang membership in the Valley.

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WALLA WALLA -- A local citizen's group plans to tackle the thorny problem of gangs in the area in a study that will run from November through May.

The Community Council's Study Committee will seek to answer the question: "How can prevention efforts reduce gang membership and the impacts of gang activity in the region?" according to a news release.

The study will begin Nov. 3 and meet weekly. People interested in learning about gangs and gang prevention is encouraged to attend.

Rick Griffin, executive director of Jubilee Youth Ranch near Prescott, will chair the study.

"The Walla Walla area has always been considered a great place to raise kids. Recently, it has gained a wonderful reputation as a vibrant cultural hotspot for wine enthusiasts. All of this is great for business development and tourism. However, a stray bullet from a gang member's gun killing an innocent bystander changes the perception of our community instantly. After reading the U-B articles on gangs in the area this summer, I believe we are creeping ever closer to just such a tragedy," Griffin said in the news release.

"In my work at Jubilee Youth Ranch, I see first-hand the problem that gangs create for individuals, families, and communities. The fractured lives of many of the young men we serve bear witness of the problem. I want to be part of the solution."

Through a series of presentations, the study will assess the scope of regional gang involvement, explore reasons for gang membership, assess gang prevention activities and programs currently in place, identify needs, and research programs successfully employed by other communities to counter gang recruitment. Presentations will cover the topic from many perspectives.

The committee will complete its work by recommending a comprehensive plan of action to prevent or reduce gang membership in this region. A report summarizing the committee's findings, conclusions and recommendations will be published and reported to the community next summer.

Summaries of each study session and the final report will be available at Community Council's website, www.wwcommunitycouncil.org.

Upon adoption of the final study report, Community Council will support a two-year effort to implement the study committee's recommendations for action.



If you go

Meetings of the Community Council Study Committee are planned each Wednesday from Nov. 3 through May from 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. at the YWCA, 213 S. First Ave.

For more information, call Julie Reese, Community Council executive director, at 509-540-6720.

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