Building A Safer Tulsa

Monday, August 14th 2006, 10:06 am
By: News On 6

Tulsa's mayor, police chief, Tulsa County DA and the US attorney are planning a gang prevention summit in Tulsa next month.

The idea is to get experts from across the nation and in eastern Oklahoma to come up with a list of ways to stop gang violence. News on 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright say it is certainly not the first time Tulsa city leaders, police and citizens have been asked to work together to stop gangs, but they say, this time is different.

Nobody likes gangs, citizens fear them, police arrest them, rivals shoot at them. Yet they still sell drugs, shoot up neighborhoods and kill. There have been anti-gang poster contests, anti-gang mural contests and grant money given to local groups to give pre-teens alternatives to a gang lifestyle.

Ex-gang members speak to young people about making bad choices. An ex-con even ran a program from a Tulsa police station, to give kids a second chance after their first arrest. Yet, the problem is still here, even after cops do crackdowns, non-profit groups start programs and churches band together.

Tulsa's latest effort is a two-day summit. Tulsa Mayor Kathy Taylor: "Last year, we know 15 percent of murders were gang related, we have at least 3,500 gang members in 150 groups. This summit is about community engagement."

Lots of groups have gang prevention programs, but they don't all know about each other and a lot of citizens who want to get involved, don't know how. The summit will help.

US Attorney Dave O'Melia: "We want to coordinate those efforts and put them under one roof to address the gang issue."

With the future of our children at stake, this summit will look for long-term solutions to a long-time problem. Harry Stege with the Gang Advisory Council: "Very complex issue, not going to fix it overnight. We need legislators, city leaders, the public; it's not just a law enforcement issue. It's a community wide problem."

And, if it takes a village to raise a child, it will take that village banding together like never before to erase gangs.

The summit is called 'Building a Safer Tulsa' and will be at the Tulsa Convention Center on September 20th and 21st.

They'll release a list of recommendations after the summit.