Monday, September 13, 2010

Kids at Risk for Gang Activity

The Overland Park Police Department's Community Policing Section is rolling out a new program aimed at helping kids at risk for participation in gang activity. The program is called G.R.I.P., which stands for Gang Reduction Intervention Program. Two Overland Park School Resource Officers developed the program after seeing an increase in gang activity in their schools over the last few years.

All officers are asked to watch for kids who exhibit behaviors consistent with gang membership. Once identified, specially trained officers work together with these kids and their parents to find alternatives to gang involvement. This process relies on parents to work with officers to understand the risky behaviors of their children, identify community resources available for assistance (local organizations, churches, non-profit organizations, etc.) and then put into action a plan to steer their children toward a safer and healthier lifestyle. Since the beginning of this school year, twenty at-risk youth have been identified.

Traditionally, police have been concerned with enforcement when it comes to gang activity. With the G.R.I.P. program, we hope to intervene before enforcement is necessary and these kids become full-fledged gang members.