- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) - Lancaster County and the Lincoln Police Department are working together on a program aimed at deterring at-risk youth from joining gangs.

Authorities became concerned that gang activity had reached a level not seen before in the city after the 2013 shooting death of a 20-year-old by a gang rival, who then fatally shot himself, said Lincoln Police Capt. Jon Sundermeier.

As part of Operation Tipping Point, which received an $11,650 grant from the state, community service providers and law enforcement meet monthly to brainstorm ways to help youths stay away from gangs.

Gang activity “is on the uptick,” said Sundermeier, who helps lead the program. He estimates that several hundred Lincoln residents are now involved in some form of gang activity.

“We think Lincoln is at a tipping point,” he told the Lincoln Journal Star (https://bit.ly/1A7BSwb ) for a story published Saturday. “We have the ability at this point in time to tip the scales and maybe slip backwards to improve the problem instead of tipping forward and seeing gang violence become more entrenched.”

Operation Tipping Point is a tool for nonprofits to use in helping support at-risk youth.

Sundermeier said the program likely won’t offer direct services but serves as an organizing group for anti-gang efforts, working to ensure each at-risk juvenile identified by the program’s partnering agencies get the help he or she needs.

One such group that might benefit is the Golden Warriors program, which helps at-risk youth and those already in the juvenile justice system, the newspaper reported. The program run by El Centro de las Americas provides group sessions every Friday night and offers field trips to places like the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

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Information from: Lincoln Journal Star, https://www.journalstar.com


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