In a bid to address the growing concern of youth involvement in gangs, the NYC Department of Corrections and the NYPD have joined forces to educate parents on how to identify warning signs that their children might be affiliated with gangs. This proactive initiative is a crucial step toward bridging the gap between law enforcement and the community, aiming to prevent young individuals from becoming entangled in the world of gangs.
The program, which has garnered significant attention, recently held a workshop at the Refuge Church of God in Bed-Stuy, where investigators from Rikers Island shared their insights and experiences with parents. Their goal? To equip parents with the tools necessary to spot the signs that their children might be at risk.
Damel Pinkney, an investigator at the Corrections Intelligence Bureau on Rikers Island and one of the workshop’s instructors, expressed the importance of the initiative, stating, “This platform gives us the opportunity to bridge that gap, so we’re giving out this information saying, ‘hey listen, this is what’s going on, pay attention to this.’”
The brainchild behind this essential community outreach program is Assistant Commissioner Shaun Kelly, who brings with him a wealth of experience as a retired NYPD detective in Brooklyn. Kelly’s motivation for this initiative stems from his heartfelt concern for the safety and well-being of young individuals. He shared, “I saw a lot of young kids killed on the street for meaningless incidents, and it hurts me to my heart.”
The workshop covered a wide range of topics, shedding light on the various influences that might lead young people toward gang affiliations. These influences include drill rap lyrics, gang signs, the meanings behind certain emojis, and even specific dance moves. Investigator Pinkney emphasized the need for open conversations with children in today’s social media-driven world, saying, “These kids need conversations now, they’re smart, they’re evolving, and as kids evolve in the social media age, we have to evolve as parents.”
Parents who attended the workshop had the opportunity to ask questions and gain valuable insights. Maxine Walker, a grandmother of teenagers, expressed her gratitude for the knowledge she gained, saying, “We hear the sounds, we hear the music, but we don’t know what it represents, so it was good for me to know.”
The initiative has also found support within the community, as evidenced by Pastor Kevin Osbourne, who invited the team to his church to help combat gang violence. He believes that by providing parents with the necessary tools and information, they can become advocates for change within their own families and communities.
Investigator Louis DeJesus, another workshop instructor, summed up the program’s purpose, stating, “We’re not going to be able to reach everybody, but if you can save one kid, that means a lot.”
In addition to this critical initiative, the article briefly mentions other news stories related to disciplinary charges against a suspended teacher, a teacher arrested for striking a student, charges in connection to the death of a 1-year-old, and more, highlighting the multifaceted challenges faced by the community.