New facility to house all gang-related agencies for better servi - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New facility to house all gang-related agencies for better service

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WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The New Hanover County Sheriff's Office announced Wednesday they will be partnering with the Wilmington Police Department to house both deputies and officers that deal with gangs and gang prevention in the same building.

Members of the housing, downtown, and gang task forces will now all work out of the Shaw Speaks Building.

The idea is that moving to one location will make it easier for agencies to communicate and share information.

"We are on separate radio channels, we are housed in different areas, we aren't together as much as we need to be together," explained Sheriff Ed McMahon. "You know, we could meet weekly, we could plan and do all that stuff, but in order to be as effective as possible, we need to have an area for the officers and the deputies to come together."

Law Enforcement offices will be on the top floor and the Elements Counseling program, which is run through the sheriff's office, will set up shop on the ground floor. There will be a basketball court, weight room, study room and TV room for the youth involved.

Currently, the organization does not have a building to work out of, instead officials go into homes and schools and take the kids on activities.

The program coordinator, Kristy Williams, said the new space opens doors for them, she said they will be able to put on more programs such as basketball and tutoring. Williams said she hopes it will let them expand the program to include more kids. She also said it gives the kids a place to go.

"We used to be in a building that had a small space, just one room for the kids, and even though it was a small space the kids felt like it was there own and they could call it theirs, since we've moved out of that building, they haven't had that place," said Williams.

Because activities will be taking place as the law enforcement officers are coming and going to work, officials hope they will mingle and meet the kids and create a positive relationship with them.

The building is owned by the county. Officers and deputies are in the process of moving in.

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