WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department is in the process of applying for a grant from the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission.
According to Deputy Chief Mitch Cunningham with the Wilmington Police Department, the request is for just under $100 thousand that will be used to fund a new gang prevention program.
Cunningham said the money would predominantly go toward filling one part-time and one full-time position within city staff.
"A lot of what we will be doing is looking to develop youth programs that will give options for kids that are trying to stay out of gangs and prevent them from going into gangs," said Cunningham.
Cunningham said that the grant request should be finished within the next 30 days. He hopes the program will be in place by next October.
The deputy chief said that grant requests from the North Carolina Governor's Crime Commission typically require a 25 percent funding match from local government. The department has yet to get that funding match approved by the Wilmington City Council.
Cunningham said that, if approved, the new hires would work to coordinate programs to combat gang violence.
"We want to partner with folks such as the Boys and Girls Clubs and the Brigade Boys and Girls Club," the deputy chief elaborated.
He said that the program would be geared towards the city's youth, but the department will still try to steer as many people as possible away from gangs.
"The gang violence has been a real struggle recently and it has forced us to really make this a priority. It is not only a suppression issue, it's a prevention/intervention issue," he explained. "When we're preventing folks from getting into gangs, then law enforcement doesn't have to get involved."
Cunningham said he has high hopes for the potential of the program.
"One of the greatest things about these programs is that it really puts young kids that are struggling with a lot of issues with adults who are not only coaches or mentors," explained Cunningham. "They develop some important relationships which can be just enough to get kids started on the right track."
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