Yakima Valley law enforcement works with family program to fight crime - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Yakima Valley law enforcement works with family program to fight crime

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NEW YAKIMA, Wash.- With monthly shootings and dozens of homicides every year, law enforcement officers in Yakima County are turning to a local program.

It's called the Nurse-Family Partnership.  In the program, nurses mentor low-income parents before their children are born. The goal is to prevent families from taking part in child abuse and neglect and avoiding high-risk behaviors like drugs and gangs. 

"Have them stop and look around and think about what do I want to do differently with my child," said Register Nurse Sandra Soto-Escalera.

Police say abused and neglected children are 13 times more likely to abuse their own children and they are also more likely to commit violent crimes and get arrested. This is why Sheriff Ken Irwin says values need to be taught early on.

"Show them from the beginning what to do and what no to do, so if they haven't been taught that if it isn't intuitive this does that if they're open to it," said Sheriff Irwin.

There are 115 families enrolled in this program. Officers and nurses say to have an impact on the valley's violence more families need to get involved.

"We're struggling to find the answer to increased gang activity. It's a no brainer… strong families, quality education, that is our way out," said Sheriff Irwin.

Employees from the program are working with local legislators to keep the funding and try to get more federal grants.