Our Opinion: Break the cycle

December 11, 2001

e are continually encouraged by the efforts of local law enforcement to use state and federal grants designed to create special units to target specific crimes. In so doing, our streets become safer places for us and our kids.

In one of the most recent examples, the county and the city of Calexico secured a state Department of Justice grant that will provide $347,000 a year for three years to fund the Calexico Area-Gang Violence Suppression program. It is a program that includes both law enforcement and community resource elements to prosecute gang crimes and prevent youths from turning toward the gang life.

Can such a task force completely rid Calexico of gang activity? Probably not. Can it make a dent? It certainly is possible and that's what makes it a program worth supporting.

Actually, any effort by local law enforcement, schools and other agencies to keep kids out of gangs deserve support. We do live in an isolated area, and we do not have the kind of gang violence found in Los Angeles, but we would be foolish to think we are free of gangs. Too many of our youths are in gangs. Too many look at the gang lifestyle as an option. As you read this, a child — maybe one about 10 years old — could be moving in that direction.


Those who pursued the state grant to create the gang task force deserve praise for their efforts. It is that kind of police and community work that can save our kids and make the Valley a safer place for all.

We are confident the program will prove successful and we are hopeful it will expand to other local communities. Drive through any city or community in the Valley and you can see that gangs exist and that more actions are needed to deal with the problem.

One point to remember is that police cannot do the job alone. The first line of defense starts at home. Parents must keep a close eye on their sons and daughters and watch for signs. Sometimes they are subtle; sometimes they are easy to see.

Parents need to understand they are not alone in this effort. Police, schools, the county — they can all help.

We should always work toward knocking out gangs just as we should work to get drugs off the streets. Those in law enforcement seem to be thinking outside the box in coming up with new ways to handle such problems. They understand our resources are limited and they are seeking the grants that make it possible to defeat crime.

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