County awarded $105,000 for efforts against gang violence

The Yakima County Juvenile Department has been awarded its second grant from the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice this year.

The Juvenile Department received $69,369 in a Title V grant this past April to begin the Gang Resistance and Intervention Project.

The Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice, which serves as Gov. Christine Gregoire's advisory board on juvenile justice issues in the state of Washington, has awarded the Yakima County Juvenile Department another $105,000, 11-month Gang Resistance and Intervention grant.

Yakima County was one of two counties in the state of Washington to receive the funding.

The Gang Resistance and Intervention Project has been developed as one of the main initiatives of the Yakima County Gang Commission. It is a partnership between the cities of Yakima, Toppenish, Sunnyside and Yakima County. It provides funding for the development of community resource centers in the three cities and a gang intervention specialist to work with the cities and the Yakima County Juvenile Gang Court.

The grant funding will provide resources to do community planning and creation of youth development centers in the three cities. Presently, the commission has two ex-gang members that work as gang intervention specialists. The grant will allow the gang commission to hire an additional gang intervention specialist.

Sunnyside will see more than $43,000 in programs, specialists and consultants.

Yakima County Court Administrator Harold Delia says the grant allows the Yakima County Gang Commission an additional intervention specialist, and Sunnyside's planning committee working against gang violence will have access to the specialists. The Sunnyside Gang Free Initiative Steering Committee, headed by Sunnyside Councilman Jim Restucci, will also receive $16,500 from the grant, and $10,500 from the Title V grant. The steering committee will use the funding for a community mobilization specialist and be offered the services of Magallan Consulting. The consulting firm is the same organization that helped put together the Gang Free Initiative, and their services will total $15,030 funded by the grant money.

Delia also says community members will be provided an opportunity for gang training, costing a little more than $1,000. He says all the funding is available Aug. 1.

"I think the most positive thing is that the gang commission has developed a partnership between the cities (Yakima, Toppenish and Sunnyside)," Delia said. "We are much more competitive because of that and the (state is) seeing a uniform effort in the county against gang violence."

Delia says the Gang Commission is also working towards securing funding on the federal level for $500,000 each year for three years.

"We are going to continue to push this model and find the funding to do it," he said.


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