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Sheriff gets $27,000 for anti-gang program

Date: September 11, 2007

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Sheriff gets $27,000 for anti-gang program
The News and Reporter - SC
By Stephen Guilfoyle
September 11, 2007

 
Gang grafitti is becoming more prevalent in Chester County, according to Deputy Kim Carnes of the Sheriff's Office. She administers a grant which the county has now received for its second year to help teach kids to avoid gang life. One way they are doing this is through a billboard contest.
 
The Chester County Sheriff’s Office has received another grant from the federal government to help prevent local teens and children from getting involved with gangs.

U.S. Attorney Reginald Lloyd announced Tuesday several Project Safe Neighborhood/Project CeaseFire grants to state and local law enforcement agencies to fight gang and firearm violence and institute gang prevention programs throughout the state.

A $27,120 grant to the Sheriff’s Office was among those announced.

The grant is for the “Beat the Streets - Gang Prevention Program.”

Sheriff Robby Benson said the program is still in the planning stages, but is intended to keep “the youth of the county from associating with gangs.”

Deputy Kim Carnes is the officer in charge of the gang program.

Last year, the Sheriff’s Office used the grant to get some computer equipment, including a projector to do PowerPoint presentations.

Carnes held an essay contest at all the schools asking students to write about how gangs are affecting their lives. There was also a billboard contest and some anti-gang billboards, designed by students were put up around Chester.

The essay and billboard contests will again be parts of the new grant, Carnes said Tuesday.

The grant will also pay for deputies to work weekend shifts in targeted high gang areas. Deputies will also be able to attend anti-gang training and workshops, possibly held by the State Law Enforcement Division or the FBI , because of the grant, she said.

The use of grant funds has to be specifically documented, Carnes said.

The gang problem in Chester County is growing, Carnes said.

She said there are about 200 young people that the Sheriff’s Office documents as members of gangs.

“There all either Crips or Bloods,” she said. “But they break down into smaller groups.”

Five of those have been linked to specific criminal acts, Carnes said.

The rest are doing gang activity like fighting at schools or in neighborhoods. Graffiti from gang members marking their territory is on the rise.

“I’m going to get some pictures of some ... now,” she said.

She has seized several items from people that marks them as gang members, she said.

Many recent drug arrests, where those arrested also carried guns are believed to be gang-related or involving gang members.

But the grant, as Benson said, is targeting young people in the county.

Carnes estamates that 70 percent of those in gangs or getting involved with gans are 17 and under.

The S.C. Department of Public Safety’s Office of Justice Programs will administer these grant programs on behalf of the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the Department of Justice.

Project Safe Neighborhoods is a national federal initiative designed to reduce gun violence. Project CeaseFire is South Carolina’s implementation of PSN.

The initiative promotes partnerships among federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies; strategic planning incorporating such technologies as crime mapping, gun tracing, and ballistic analysis; training that brings together federal, state, and local officials to build effective teams; outreach to communities; and accountability for impact on community safety. More information concerning the national initiative may be found at www.ProjectSafeNeighborhoods.gov, while more information concerning the South Carolina initiative may be found at www.usdoj.gov/usao/sc/.

“State and local law enforcement agencies are a tremendous part of our Project CeaseFire program. Therefore, we are pleased to be able to award them the funds that they need to help us address the firearm violence and gang problem in South Carolina,” Lloyd said. “Together we can hopefully make a difference in South Carolina.”

Lloyd stated that with the strong and consistent support of each law enforcement agency, Project CeaseFire can continue to be successful. These grants will allow law enforcement agencies to continue with innovative programs to reduce gang and firearm crimes in our communities.

 

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