Police reach out to community programs to help stop violence - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Police reach out to community programs to help stop gang violence

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Columbia police officers took time from patrolling Thursday to talk to young kids about the importance of staying away from the street life.

"It's very easy to get into trouble sometimes, but it's very hard to get out of it," said Lance Adams with the Columbia Police Department's Gang Prevention Unit. "And you know how you start? You start by telling the truth."

Officers spoke to the Youth at Prosperity Project's tutoring program.

United State Attorney Bill Nettles was also there to stress the importance of constant, positive programs to combat gangs.

"If we're going to address the gang issue, we can't be chasing incidents," Nettles said. "We have to decide we're going to go where the gangs are, we're going to have a presence and stay there and effect positive change. We can't wait for a shooting and it be a knee-jerk reaction. This is a long term problem. It needs to be addressed with a long term solution and community involvement is the only way to do it."

Adams said they have to empower children and give them the courage to say no to violence.

"I try to come here and educate and empower the kids and tell them about gang prevention and how to stay out of a gang and give them tools on what they can do to say no to gang activity and just try to put them on a different path," Adams said.

Prosperity project is an after-school program in the Lyon Street community. They meet at Friendship Baptist Church several times each week providing recreation and tutoring to kids.

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