LAKELAND, FL (October 31, 2013) – On Monday, November 18th the City of Lakeland will host a Community Meeting addressing gang related issues. The meeting will take place at the Coleman Busch Building from 6 – 8:30 p.m. There have been a number of gang related shootings in the last few months and the purpose of the meeting is to identify the steps needed to curb gang membership within the community.
Mayor Gow Fields said, “We need to have an approach to identify and reduce the number of individuals who look at gangs as the answer to their problems. Many of the youth today are migrating to this kind of activity and sadly they recognize gangs as a type of family.”
The Community Meeting will include the following:
· An overview of gangs by the Lakeland Police Department. This overview will include the changing gang demographics and membership activity.
· Community understanding of what to look for to identify gang behavior.
· Identifying community resources and understanding positive community based programs.
· Identify the gaps of what is missing in community programs as well as listing alternatives.
· Start a plan and dialogue needed to move forward.
Assistant Chief of Police Mike Link said, “In Lakeland we have 260 documented gang members and associates. Right now we have 46 listed gangs. Nine of those are considered more active and pop-up on our radar much more frequently that the others.”
Fields said, “This is a war and we don’t have enough soldiers of good influence on the street. Hopefully, this meeting will be a start so the community can see the seriousness of the issue.” He added, “We need to work together in solving this problem.”
The City of Lakeland asks the community to attend this important meeting as we work toward solutions to curb gang membership and identify resources needed to help reduce gang violence. For more information on gang activity in Florida, please visit www.floridagangreduction.com.