'Anybody can be drawn in': Police share gang prevention tips in South Osborne
Organized crime unit hosts 4th open house to educate public
Winnipeg police stopped in Lord Roberts Monday night, providing information about how to recognize the signs that a youth is getting involved with gangs.
More than two dozen people showed up for the gang prevention open house, hosted by officers with the organized crime unit.
Police said Monday night's meeting was not in response to a string of recent public shootings and that the event was the fourth such forum this year in all police districts. The idea is to educate the public on gangs in the city and techniques to help deter kids from getting involved in crime.
Max Waddell, an inspector with the organized crime unit, said people should be aware of the potential allure of gangs for some youth and the dangers of kids falling in with the wrong crowd.
"For those that don't have accessibility to money, this is a big draw to them. It's very impressionable for young kids to see an older person involved in a gang and be rewarded for basically completing illegal activities," said Waddell.
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Police said that while most gang-related crime is targeted — and that the general public doesn't have to live in fear — that people involved in gang activity can live anywhere.
"It doesn't draw borders on whether or not, if you're a gang member, to live in a certain area. Anybody can be drawn into this lifestyle," said Waddell.
Part of the police's strategy to combat gang activity is to make the public aware of the different support programs available for people who may be concerned of friends or family members getting involved in criminal activity.
Winnipeg Crime Stoppers, Macdonald Youth Services, the Graffiti Control Winnipeg Branch, Boys and Girls Club were all on hand to offer information about their programs on Monday.
The Province's Project Gang Proof also has information available online about gangs, gang life, the impacts on communities and even a fact sheet on the warning signs and indicators for families worried about youths involved in gangs.
Some of the warning signs for gang involvement could include:
- Changes in appearance
- Unexplained injuries
- New tattoos
- Starts using hand signs
- Money becomes a priority
- Steals money or has more money than usual
- Has unexplained gifts — clothes or electronics