Twenty-one gangs have been identified in Syracuse and Wednesday members of the community gathered to hear from someone who has worked to end gang violence nationally and discuss strategies. As YNN's Erin Clarke tells us, the public forum was part of a two-day workshop with the National Gang Center
SYRACUSE,N.Y. -- After serving time behind bars, Steven Marston says he wants to be a part of the solution to help steer Syracuse youth away from gangs and violence.
"The only way out is prison or death, so chose wisely," said Marston
He was one of many who attended a community education session with a member of the National Gang Center in town for a two day workshop with community leaders.
"They've worked with over 25 hundred law enforcement agencies across the country. They've worked with communities that had larger gang problems than we've encountered here and they're able to bring to us a lot of new strategies," Executive Assistant United States Attorney, John Duncan.
The organization collects data and puts together an annual National Youth Gang Survey. From that information they've developed and helped implement community-based gang prevention, intervention, and suppression strategies. Strategies, people like Marston applaud, but say more is needed.
"You need to actually get with people like me and people that's from the streets to actually know what is going on and where we need the help," said Marston.
That's where the National Gang Center approach comes into play. It's goal is to work with people like Marston and other members of the community to understand gangs and then develop a data driven approach to dealing with them.
"We're looking for community input and this was in fact a good way to get community input on this and that we have the quantitative data, but we also really want the qualitative as well," said John Finn Institute for Public Safety Associate Director, Sarah McLean.
There's still much work to be done. A comprehensive plan to deal with Syracuse gangs is just in the preliminary stages. An analysis will be completed by the end of spring.
For more information about the National Gang Center visit: www.nationalgangcenter.gov