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Reducing youth violence through positive transformation

One of those groups — led by Stan Ross, the Executive Director of the nonprofit Positive Influence Team Brings juveniles charged in auto thefts and former adult offenders together for regular meetings.

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The I-Team attended one of their meetings on Feb. 7.

Ross spoke to the group about the importance of following their conscience and making good decisions.

He was the guide but encouraged everyone in the group to share their experiences, especially ones that could benefit the three teens in the meeting.

The adults give the kids straight talk built on a foundation of compassion, accountability and encouragement.

“Let’s break that cycle,” Pierre Shaw told the teens. “Break that chain. Cause we need y’all.”

Shaw, 36, encouraged the three teens — ages 18, 16 and 16 — to share the lessons they learned at the meetings.

“These people who look up to y’all, what we’re giving y’all, you can give to them,” he said. “Y’all can create your own little group.”

Two of the teens talked with the group about their experiences.

“Some people just (steal cars) for fun,” a 16-year-old told the group.

But he said auto theft wasn’t worth the risk.

“Couple things that could happen,” he said. “You get on a chase (by police) or something else, or you dead.”

An 18-year-old, charged as a juvenile, talked about not having good role models and how that influenced his decisions.

“A lot of people get peer pressure,” he said. “I got lost.”

Now, he said, he understands that he’s hurting himself and others if he commits crimes.

“You could be different,” Donnell Hughes, 41, told the 18-year-old. “It just seems like you got a good mind on your shoulders, man. You just need to connect with some guys doing something different because they out there, too.”

Igoe said Ross’ program begins by connecting with youth at the Youth Center and meeting with their families, trying to empower the teens without making excuses for their alleged crimes.

“This right here is help that is priceless for you three guys,” Ross told the boys at the meeting. “Because you have — I don’t know — maybe over 50 years of experience in this room – of stories that these men and women have overcome.”

Police are also investing in finding solutions.

Major Orue says the Sheriff’s Office’s crime analysts – along with other law enforcement agencies – use data from crime reports to track auto thefts, arrest thieves, and prevent crimes.

Orue said most auto thefts tracked by the sheriff’s office involve vehicles that are easier to steal.

They usually occurred in areas with a higher concentration of residential neighborhoods close to an interstate, so it’s easier to get away, according to Orue.

He said vehicle owners can also make it harder for thieves.

Safety experts provide the following tips to make it more challenging for car thieves:

  • Lock the doors
  • Use a steering wheel locking device
  • Park in a lighted area off the street
  • Preferably use a garage if it’s available

Post Author: Stan Ross

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