WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - When it comes to gang violence in Wilmington, few members of city council, other than Mayor Bill Saffo, have said much. But former city council member Ronald Sparks is speaking out.
Although Sparks says that city council members need to be more vocal about the issue, he doesn't believe they can solve the problems alone.
"You have to have a moral foundation with the children from the earliest point," said Sparks. "At high school and middle school, it's too late. A moral foundation as they proceed through the school system."
Sparks said council members cut funding when he was a councilman for a police gang task force because crime was low. He believes that's one reason we could be seeing an increase in violence now.
In 2009, New Hanover County commissioners eliminated the human relations department in order to save money. Sparks says now is an example of why the area needs a human relations department.
"With the human relations commission in place, that's a forum where gang members can be in the room, police can be in the room," said Sparks. "So they can talk amongst themselves, and it's a safe place to have such a conversation."
Sparks says that city officials must focus on bringing jobs to the area that will hire people with just high school diplomas.