U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta and state Sen. John Yudichak held their third information session to address the growing problem of gang-related crime and violence in the region at Luzerne Community College yesterday. Veteran reporter Steve Mocarsky covered the meeting in this report.
Barletta called the session, held at Luzerne County Community College, “the most important part of the five” because “community involvement is really what we believe will drive this initiative. … As a community we have a responsibility of doing our part.”
“If we do nothing, we will see more and more gang activity creep into our neighborhoods,” Barletta, R-Hazleton, said.
The first session at Penn State Hazleton in June focused on educating the community about gangs, how they work and how to recognize them. The second, at King’s College in February, focused on what schools can and should do to prevent students from succumbing to gang recruitment efforts.
Yudichak said that since then, much has already happened.
Yudichak said Pennsylvania is one of only a handful of states that has no gang-specific law on the books, but he and colleagues in the state House and Senate are working to change that.
Gang expert Darrell Dones, a supervisory special agent with the FBI Academy in Quantico, Va., who helped Barletta and Yudichak launch the initiative, said he’s impressed with the interest and community involvement he’s seen here thus far.
This efffort relies on community involvement. The public can attned the nest Gang Awareness Information Session by Operation Gang Up on Sept. 23 at Hazleton Area High School. The focus will be law enforcement awareness.
To get involved right away contact the office of state Sen. John Yudichak at 740-2434 or the office of U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta at 235-1420 for more information on how to join a committee or subcommittee to help combat the local gang presence. Or visit www.operationgangup.com – the website soon will be fully functional.