Anti-Gang Initiative for Young Kids

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ROCKFORD (WIFR) – Just days after dozens of shots were fired at the Blackhawk Housing Complex, an area with known gang activity, Rockford Police are starting a new anti-gang initiative.

As Shervaki Blaylock gets her 3-year-old son ready for school, she’s already teaching him that gangs are a serious problem, especially near her home in the Blackhawk Housing Complex.

“I ask him like what do you want to be when you grow up, and he tells me and I tell him well this is what you can be when you grow up if you don’t join a gang.”

“We need to impact these gangs and one way to do that is to focus on the youth before they get involved,” said Assistant Deputy Chief Doug Pann.

Rockford Police hope to prevent more violent crimes, through a new anti-gang initiative with the Rockford Housing Authority, District 205 and the Boys and Girls Club. The program educates kids in 4th through 8th grade. The plan is still in its early stages, however, Assistant Deputy Chief Doug Pann says the idea is to have an interactive program, where students can create an anti-gang slogan and participate in activities with local officers.

“So they can see that the police really do want to be involved and know who they are and understand the issues that they face. It’s something we know we need to do before it gets to a point where they’re already involved.”

That’s something Blaylock says she’s looking forward to protecting dozens of kids, including her son.

RHA CEO Ron Clewer says he plans to meet with police and District 205 later this month to discuss ideas for specific programs and activities.

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