Jonesboro Police Team Up With City Youth to Prevent Gang Violence

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT)- In May of 2007 City Youth Ministries lost one of their own to gang activity.

Now a year later, the Jonesboro Police are aiding in City Youth's efforts to keep kids off the streets, and they're requesting the community's support.

"We are in a leadership role in this community, and I think it's time we stepped up and we stepped into that leadership role," said Police Chief Mike Yates.

At monday's press conference he announed a major campaign in which 80 percent of his officers are now participating.

"I asked each one of them to do a payroll deduction of $1 per pay period to go towards City Youth Ministries," said Yates.

That money, when multiplied by several hundred employees in a span of a year, equals big opportunities for the youth of jonesboro.

Every year City Youth Ministries serves 700 to 750 children, and it only costs about $1 per day to give those children an alternative to a life they could be living.

And with gang problems on the rise, the ultimate goal is to expand the services of City Youth Ministries even deeper into the city.

"Our hopes is that this program will allow us to extend and put feet on the ground, missionaries if you will, on the ground in the different areas of town that are identified as our hot spots," said City Youth Board President Gene Vance.

How long it will take to reach that goal is unknown, but the ultimate outcome will depend on how the community responds now.

"We don't know the in the days down the road what's about to occur, but we've just got to prepare today," said Executive Director Rennell Woods.

And as Chief Yates says, today is just as important as tomorrow in saving the lives of our youth.

"A deterrent aspect is equally as important, if not so more important than what we do on the enforcement end of things," said Yates.

Chief Yates says his employees have volunteered to donate as much as $50 per pay period to the efforts of expanding City Youth Ministries.

Mayor Doug Formon and Coucilman Harold Perrin were also at today's press conference and are teaming up with the innitiative as well.

City Yuth has three key areas they would like to expand into, inlcuding the Gladiolas area, Race Street, and the Caraway Commons area.

If you or your business would like to help out with the innitiative to give kids an alternative to gang activity, simply contact City Youth Ministries at 870-932-9398.

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