CMPD Awarded Anti-Gang Initiative Grant

CHARLOTTE, NC — “Any gang activity is a problem,” said Gang Alternative Principles (GAP) Manager George Wilkerson.

Wilkerson works with about 90 at-risk youth a year, through the Gang Alternative Principles or GAP program. Right now they have fall and spring programs, but extra grant funds could help them extend it through the summer.

“We have expenses that we, breakfast, lunch, transportation, off-site field trips, and also give gift certificates for participation,” said Wilkerson.

They’ll be getting about $86,000 from a more than $600,000 DOJ grant. It will allow them to add 40 more kids a year, 20 male and now 20 female.

“We try to work with youth right at the beginning of their participation of gang activity and that type of behavior. We’re able to reach them, hopefully, before they become full fledged,” said Wilkerson.

The bulk of the funds will go to CMPD technology purchases, training and overtime for gang detectives. Mayor Jennifer Roberts says more funding for officers working with local neighborhoods is a priority.

“If we can give them the technology and the extra training to build on the knowledge they have of the community, to learn how to really reach out to the youth,” said Roberts.

And Wilkerson says it’s not a task for just anyone.

“We have to get staff that their primary profession has been working with young people,” said Wilkerson.

With the technology money, CMPD wants to buy 6 cameras, which will be placed in crime hot spots around the city, and 20 cameras that can travel with gang prevention officers on the streets.