New community action group targets gangs - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

by Jennifer Hoff

New community action group targets gangs

ROCHESTER, MN (KTTC DT) -- Crime in Rochester has another citizen group to contend with. The United Way is putting together an initiative to specifically target gangs.

Unlike the neighborhood associations that target public safety, the United Way says its goal is more specific -- address at-risk teens and gangs.

Rochester Police Gang Investigator Steve Thompson drew the most questions from the audience inside Rochester's Heinz Center. This is the group's second public meeting since forming in December.

Funded partially through a grant from the Rochester Area Foundation, a panel ultimately plans to identify available community resources that can provide tools for at-risk kids.

Thompson says, there's at least 13 gangs in Rochester -- made up of 400 juvenile members who range in age from 12 to 17.

In the past five years, Thompson has personally investigated 41 shootings and 20 fights that were gang-related.

How to combat that has yet to be achieved by police or any community group, but it's not for lack of effort.

Deneene McDonald, United Way Project Manager says, "What would lead them to being involved with gangs or other problem activities and we're hoping at the end we'll have solid recommendations that we'll be able to go forward and address the issues."

Thompson did assure the public, it was a "quiet winter" in terms of gang activity, which allowed the investigator to get "caught up" on his caseload.

If you're interested in this gang initiative and to help you get in touch with the United Way, call the phone number at 507-287-2004. The office is located at:

United Way of Olmsted County

903 W Center St

Rochester, MN 55902

phone 507-287-2004

fax 507-287-2063

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