Tulsa Police say nearly half the city's homicides this year have been gang-related. It's a problem getting more attention than ever, after a two day citywide summit hoping for a solution.
Now the findings from that September meeting are in. News on 6 reporter Heather Lewin says the 50-page report is filled with ideas from people all over Tulsa on how to stop gang violence. The question now is how will they make it happen?
Tulsa leaders are pledging to start the New Year with a new approach to gang violence. With the combined forces of city, state and the federal government, authorities say they're throwing everything they've got at the problem.
US Attorney David Oâ€™Meilia: "We want results, and this wasn't just one of those conferences, summits where people spend two days talking about issues, then go back to their jobs and it's never heard from again."
Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor received the final report late Wednesday night then met Thursday morning with a planning committee. Some key areas include youth intervention with increased mentoring, helping adult offenders successfully re-enter society, new legislation for funding at the street level and federal involvement. Mayor Kathy Taylor: "To ensure that gang activity is able to be reported in a way that the citizens feel confident that it is being addressed and they are not a target."
Project leaders say when gang members are taken off the street; more young kids are ready to take their place. That's why the major focus will be reaching those kids early. â€œIncreasing the presence of a responsible adult in a child's life." And helping those who've gone astray, find their way out of the gang life.
David Oâ€™Meilia: "We're trying to bring together the resources to get them employment, to get them training, so that they can return to society and become productive citizens." Kathy Taylor: "It takes prevention, it takes prosecution and it takes support on reentry. Otherwise, it's just a circle."
Some skeptics might say programs like these are already in place, but the mayor says they will be reinforced and stepped up. She says it's a long-term solution and results can't be measured overnight.
We've been told to expect a big announcement in January about a dramatic change in Tulsa youth mentoring programs.