KENNEWICK, Wash.-- A nationally recognized speaker stopped in the Tri-Cities Friday to talk about gangs. More than 200 community leaders, including police officers, educators, and mental health professionals, met at South Hills Church in Kennewick to hear Doctor Al Valdez, a professor at the University of California, Irvine and renowned speaker.
Dr. Valdez talked about the sociology and psychology behind why people join gangs. He says, "Sometimes it's attraction to money, sometimes excitement, sometimes the gang becomes a surrogate family. I'm kind of embarrassed to say, as a professional, but for some kids, joining gangs is a form of survival."
Det. Chris Littrell, with the Kennewick Police Department and the Co-Chair of TC-GIVES, says, "If you understand what's going on inside their minds, what's going on inside their hearts, the reasons they're joining- it allows us, as professionals, not to make excuses for them but to sit there and offer alternatives."
He also talked about how curbing the gang problem takes a community effort, tackling it from different angles: prevention, intervention, suppression, and re-entry.
Partners to bring Dr. Valdez to the Tri-Cities include TC-GIVES, ESD 123, Kennewick Police Dept., South Hills Church, and the Benton-Franklin Juvenile Justice Center.