Organization aims to decrease gang numbers - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Organization aims to decrease gang numbers

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RICHLAND, Wash. - Police estimate there are more than 3,000 gang members active in the Tri-Cities alone and only about 10% of them are actually documented.

Francisco Gomez grew up as a gang member but was given the chance to turn his life around. Now he's doing the same for others through a gang outreach program called F.I.R.M.E., which stands for Finding, Impacting, Redirecting gangs through Mentorship and Education.

Friday the group hosted a community forum with local law enforcement. Pasco Police Chief Robert Metzger they're more than willing to be a part of the effort.

"We can do arrests, we can do all that stuff but what does that really accomplish," said Metzger. "Nothing. What Jesse's trying to do is accomplish something else with these people to help them either stay out of gangs, get out of gangs or in some way deal with the gang problem from another aspect."

"It feels good to give somebody hope, to give them guidance," said Gomez. "Really see the best in them and let them see the good in them."

F.I.R.M.E. hopes to open an alternative school specifically for gang members in addition to family counseling, mentoring, field trips and community projects. It's still in its first year and has already helped about 50 people. Founder Jesse Campos said the goal is to help as many youth and young adults in the community as they can.

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