11-7-13 & 11-8-13
The November Operation Gang Up event at Harrisburg Area Community College received extensive media coverage from television, radio, newspaper and social media. Below you can see the highlights of the event.
Panel discussion focuses on empowering residents to tackle the threat of gangs in the capital region
By Jeremy Arias | firstname.lastname@example.org
HARRISBURG — While large, national gangs are present in the midstate,law enforcementofficials are more concerned with local street gangs, a problem they believe residents can do quite a bit to help with.
State Sen. John Yudichak (left) and Rep. Lou Barletta (right) address a group of concerned residents and neighborhood groups at an anti-gang seminar Thursday evening in Harrisburg.Jeremy Arias/PennLive
In an anti-gang seminar hosted Thursday night at Harrisburg Area Community College by U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, R-Hazleton, and state Sen. John Yudichak, D-Luzerne County, a panel of police chiefs, district attorneys and other area experts addressed how residents can pitch in to help nip gang problems in the bud. By far the most important message was for residents to take ownership of their streets.
"You live there, you know what is normal," said Cpl. Gabe Olivera, who supervises the city's vice and narcotics unit. "That is when you should start calling in those tips, when you notice things that aren't normal. … Take ownership of your block and get others to take ownership."
While several national-level gangs — the Bloods, Crips, etc. — are active in the midstate, the main offenders are neighborhood groups that tend to form around specific blocks and small groups that identify themselves as members of a larger gang but aren't actually affiliated with them.
Of course, even these small or wannabe gangs present a serious threat to public safety.
"They may not all wear gang colors, but they are involved in criminal activities; selling drugs, they're shooting up the neighborhoods, they're committing home invasion robberies, they're robbing the stores,"said Dauphin County District Attorney Edward M. Marsico Jr. "... Neighborhood gangs "are more of what we're seeing in central Pennsylvania than what you might see in Compton, L.A."
The panelists also explained the strategies police use and the hurdles they face in addressing gangs. Borough, township and school supervisors are often reluctant to admit to problems in their communities.
Jonathan Duecker, a special agent from the Bureau of Narcotics Investigation and Drug Control in the attorney general's office, said what he calls the "willful ignorance" of gangs by many school and township officials is often the result of their organizations wishing to present themselves as a better economic or educational investment to residents and students. Regardless, the attitude is still harmful, he said.
"The way we get these 500 school districts onboard is to go out and knock them down one at a time," Duecker said, adding that police building relationships with students and youth gives them a better grasp of an area's gang issues.
Most of the discussion focused on what attracts youths to gangs and how the community can combat it. "I'm struck every year by the statistics that I see that over 85 percent of the young people who are arrested each year in Dauphin County come from single-parent households," said Susquehanna Township police Chief Robert Martin in discussing how effective gangs are at recruiting youths.
"Go to you local township meetings ... interact with the other groups involved in your community [because] we can only do so much," - David Freed.
Especially attractive to middle and high schoolers who fall prey to the often glamorous way in which these criminal groups are portrayed in the mainstream media, gangs are a problem that needs to be addressed in all aspects of life, including schools and youth programs.
Cumberland County District Attorney David Freed praised the work done by youth groups and neighborhood watches to keep youngsters away from gangs and to get organized on the streets, respectively.
Freed mentioned the recent response in Carlisle after an attack by several young men on an older resident over a parking space. Within weeks of the attack on Charles Petty, his neighbors held a brainstorming session to discuss the merits of forming a neighborhood watch and providing positive activities for teens and children.
"Go to you local township meetings, go to your council meetings," Freed told the audience. "Try to interact with the other groups involved in your community [because] we can only do so much."
A movement sponsored by Harrisburg police is working to encourage the formation of neighborhood watches and patrols, while interactive websites such as the Dauphin County Crime Watch portal provide other options for residents to provide tips to police or find out about arrests in their neighborhoods.
For additional information regarding upcoming meetings sponsored by Barletta and Yudichak's Operation Gang Up, residents can call the representatives' offices. Contact numbers are available on their websites.
The Cumberland County Sentinel
HARRISBURG - Local, state and federal officials gathered at Harrisburg Area Community College Thursday night for a panel discussion about the prevalence and danger of criminal gangs.
The panel was part of Operation Gang Up. The initiative was created by Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11) and state Senator John Yudichak (D – Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) to curb gang activity in Pennsylvania.
In our area, officials say two national gangs are present. However, a problem here is the number of neighborhood gangs that exist in and around cities.
"In the suburbs we have individuals that are selling drugs as a gang activity, that are carrying guns, that are involved in home invasion robberies," Dauphin County District Attorney Ed Marsico said.
Marsico says we have not seen an explosion in gang presence but he and others say the problem could escalate.
They want to remind residents to be aware and report suspicious activity.
Sen. John Yudichak and U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta: Law enforcement, legislators discuss anti-gang measures at HACC forum.
HARRISBURG – Congressman Lou Barletta (R-11) and state Sen. John Yudichak (D-Luzerne/Carbon/Monroe) today hosted dozens of law enforcement officials, students and concerned residents for a wide-ranging discussion about the prevalence and danger of organized gangs throughout Pennsylvania at Harrisburg Area Community College.
“Sometimes the hardest part about combating gang activity is getting people to recognize and acknowledge that there is an issue,” Barletta said. “As a former mayor, I saw the signs in my hometown, and Operation Gang-Up is designed to help other communities recognize when they have a problem and know what to do about it.”
The gang awareness information session was organized through the Operation Gang Up initiative formed by Barletta and Yudichak in 2011 in response to increasing gang activity in Northeastern Pennsylvania.
“We cannot effectively remove gang influence and violence from our communities without a coordinated, comprehensive community effort,” Yudichak said. “Tonight’s Operation Gang Up event was a great opportunity to share what is working in northeastern Pennsylvania’s fight against violence and gang activity and how it might help the city of Harrisburg – and vice versa.”
More than 150 people attended Thursday’s Operation Gang Up event to hear tips on how they can help recognize and prevent the spread of violence and criminal gangs. Four previous public forums hosted by Operation Gang Up drew more than 1,000 concerned Northeastern Pennsylvania residents.
WHP580’s RJ Harris served as the emcee for the panel discussion that included John Wetzel, Secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections (DOC); Jason Umberger, Swatara Township Chief of Police; Joseph Milligan, FBI Supervisory Special Agent; Jonathan Duecker, Office of Attorney General Special Agent; Gabriel Olivera, Harrisburg Bureau of Police Corporal; Peter J. Smith, U.S. Attorney Middle District of Pennsylvania; Edward Marsico, Dauphin County District Attorney; and, David Freed, Cumberland County District Attorney.
“Every member of the criminal justice system has an important role in keeping our communities safe from gangs, and it starts with communications between and among agencies,” DOC Secretary John Wetzel said. “The DOC's roles include identifying gang members and providing evidenced-based programs to offenders while they are in our custody in an attempt to get them to leave their lives of crime and become law-abiding citizens.
For more information about Operation Gang Up and how to become involved in the fight to keep gangs out of Pennsylvania communities, visit www.operationgangup.com
EDITOR'S NOTE: To download an image of Sen. Yudichak and Congressman Barletta from the Operation Gang Up event for your use, visit http://www.senatoryudichak.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/IMG_1786.jpg
Senate Democratic Statewide Radio Feed 11-08-13
Gang violence is increasing in Pennsylvania, especially on the neighborhood level. As Don Rooney reports, Pennsylvania lawmakers are moving to put an end to the problem.
SENATOR JOHN YUDICHAK IS CO-FOUNDER OF OPERATION GANG UP, A PROGRAM DESIGNED TO FIGHT STREET GANGS IN PENNSYLVANIA. HE SAYS THESE GANGS ARE INVOLVED IN DRUGS, KILLINGS, THEFT AND ILLEGAL GAMBLING THROUGHOUT THE STATE. OPERATION GANG UP IS HOSTING A SERIES OF DISCUSSIONS TO INFORM RESIDENTS ABOUT THE RISE OF GANGS. THE SENATOR SAYS THE NEIGHBORHOOD IS THE FIRST LINE OF DEFENSE AGAINST GANGS
SENATOR YUDICHAK SAYS LAWMAKERS ARE ALSO COMMITTED TO MAKING SURE LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICIALS HAVE THE TOOLS THEY NEED TO DISRUPT AND DISMANTLE GANG ACTIVITIES. DON ROONEY STATE CAPITOL
Operation Gang Up Community Event: November 7, 2013
Richard Long@RichLong Very informative Gang Awareness program at HACC hosted by @reploubarletta @SenJohnYudichak featuring #PDAA leaders @edmarsico @davefreed. Retweeted by Sen. John Yudichak
What was said on
"Operation Gang-Up" announced at HACC by top leaders in law enforcement. #CBS21NEWS pic.twitter.com/LajNHYZCC7
PennLive.com@PennLivePanel discussion focuses on empowering residents to tackle the threat of gangs in the capital region: http://ow.ly/qBVOu Retweeted by Sen. John Yudichak
WHTM@abc27News9hForum discusses area gang problem: Local, state and federal officials gathered at Harrisburg Area Community Co... http://bit.ly/19JGQE1
Sen. John Yudichak@SenJohnYudichak
Appeared on @GoodDayPA w/ @RepLouBarletta to discuss #OperationGangUp event at @HACC_info. Hope to see you tonight! pic.twitter.com/lcJ6ihRo9o