Gang Prevention Forum in York County

CrimeGang ActivityCrime, Law and JusticeMike Smith (football coach)

Hundreds of police officers and community leaders gathered at the Penn State York campus to discuss gang prevention Friday.

"In all the school districts in the county, we're seeing increased gang activity or kids that want to be in gangs," said Beth Gill-Macdonald, coordinator.

In York County, police say there are about 30 gangs. The 212, East End, West Side and United Blood Nation are just a few.

"We always run into people when we speak to them and say "I've seen that graffiti. I've seen those signs." I didn't realize what it was," said Wes Kahley, York City Police Captain.

As the economy weakens and money gets tight, police are concerned gangs are expanding past city limits.

"A lot of it revolves around the drug trade and firearm trade, moving the guns from our state into other states," said Kahley.

So community leaders are focusing on prevention and they say it starts early.

"After school programs, mentoring programs, all of those things need to be in place," said Gill-Macdonald.

Mike Smith is proof programs can succeed through his drill and dance program. He's helped keep kids off the streets.

"The sooner you get them into programs and get them active into positive programming, the less likelihood there will be to get into the negativity which is sometimes right outside of your down," said Smith.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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