A concerted effort

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, April 6, 2011

That Suffolk takes a hard line against gang activity should be obvious from the fact that the city has not just one, but two, of the Neighborhood Enforcement Teams set up to combat gang-related crime in Suffolk. With the growth of North Suffolk’s neighborhoods — and their close proximity to some of the worst parts of Churchland — gang activity was bound to pop up there after having been primarily a problem of downtown Suffolk for some time.

Perhaps even more telling in the city’s fight against gang crime, however, are the resources that police and prosecutors are committing to the attempt to keep kids from ever setting off down the wayward path that is all but guaranteed to lead to pain and heartbreak for themselves, their family and their friends.

A presentation earlier this week by members of the NET and representatives from the commonwealth’s attorney’s office is a case in point. “There are no 80-year-old gangsters walking around,” Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Bob Sandwich told a group of students at King’s Fork High School on Tuesday. Gang members usually end up in jail, in the hospital or dead, he added.

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It’s a blunt presentation intended to leave no doubt about the city’s position on gangs, about the level of commitment held by police and prosecutors or about the future of those teens who choose to get involved with gangs.

Clearly Suffolk still has a long way to go before it can claim to have eradicated the problem. But it’s good to know that the city’s efforts extend beyond the legal and enforcement realms and into education and prevention. Only a concerted effort on all fronts is likely ever to have success.