New Lucas Co. program tackles growing gang problem - 13abc.com Toledo (OH) News, Weather and Sports

New Lucas Co. program tackles growing gang problem

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Montrice Terry doesn't just talk the talk, he walks the walk.  As coordinator for a new gang prevention program called GRIP, Terry has daily interaction with teens who are in jeopardy of falling through the cracks.

"I come from the inner city streets of Toledo," he tells 13abc  "We get those teens that are just on the brink, not those who are fully engulfed or engaged in gang activity."

 The Lucas County program targets boys between the ages of 14 and 17.  Leaders teach them  responsible behaviors and provide them with mentors and resources to focus on future goals.

"I see a lot of them on a day to day basis off the clock and it makes a big difference."

 Gang activity is a growing problem that countless agencies work to fix.  National agents partnered with Toledo police to arrest 20 people as part of an operation called 'Project Southbound'.  In total, 638 people in 179 cities were taken into custody, most involved with a California-based gang called the Surenos.
    
Terry believes many of the local kids who turn to gangs lack what he calls, the fear factor.

"Many of the youth of today are not afraid of some of the consequences for some of their actions that they're doing," says Terry.

GRIP organizers say daily interactions with teens most vulnerable to violence could make a difference.  Gang sweeps gets crime off the street, but they want to stop the violence before it happens.

"Stay connected, stay involved in that youth's life," recommends the GRIP coordinator.  "We have to get out of the cliche or norm of mama can't raise no boy or dad can't raise no boy. We're at the point in time where mama has to raise that boy or daddy has to raise that daughter."

GRIP is a part of a larger agency in Lucas County called UMADAOP Lucas County which stands for Urban Minority and Drug Abuse Outreach Program.  Leaders say other young men are welcome to get involved.

To get more information call (419) 255-4444 or visit http://www.umadaops.com/toledo.htm .
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