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Gang Prevention Grant Will Keep Rec Centers Open Later

— If kids are kept off the street and given something to do, the San Diego Police Department believes those kids are less likely to join a gang. A grant awarded to the city will help with that effort.

San Diego has received nearly $370,000 from the state to go toward gang-prevention efforts. The majority of the money will be used to keep rec centers in southeast and central San Diego open later on Friday nights. Lt. Jorge Duran is in charge of the SDPD gang unit.

“The issue that we’ve been finding is that there are still a crop of young, impressionable individuals out there that are being preyed upon by the older gang members and being recruited into the gang,” Duran said.

Duran said keeping the rec centers open later gives the younger kids something to do and reduces gang violence throughout the city. Money from the grant will also be used to identify and help kids most at risk of joining a gang.

San Diego received the same grant in 2008 and Duran said it has made a big difference.

“Over the past two years this grant has allowed us to be visible, present in areas with high incidences of gang crime, Central Division and Southeastern Division,” he said. “(It is) allowing our gang intervention officers to be in those areas working with young children to give them an alternative way out of gangs.”

According to police statistics gang crimes dropped 15 to 23 percent in areas served by the 2008 grant.

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