Immediate Release

Friday, July 6, 2007 

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Picente Convenes Anti-Gang Summit

Oneida County Executive Anthony J. Picente, Jr. today announced that the anti-gang effort he announced in this year’s State of the County speech will continue to move forward with an anti-gang summit to be held on Tuesday, July 10th.

Picente said the summit will run from noon to 3 p.m., and will be held at Danielle’s at Valley View in Utica . Picente said key leaders will be available to the media at noon before the start of the formal session.

“None of us want gangs in our communities, but they are here. I believe that this is a caring community, an active community and an involved community. Because of that, we have a number of people and groups all trying to do what they can,” Picente said. “We need to take a very thorough look at the problem, the response, and the partners who want to be involved so that we can develop a long-range response that will succeed.”

“My goal in this meeting is to bring some of the key public leaders and community leaders together to discuss how the community believes we need to fight this problem,” Picente said. “I want to develop an inter-departmental, inter-governmental response that addresses the underlying causes as well as the criminal issues and use the efforts that are already underway as the foundation for our next steps.”

Picente said that he has invited the mayors of the cities of Utica and Rome, the Superintendents of the Utica and Rome school districts, the head of BOCES, the Police Chiefs of Utica, Rome and New Hartford, the Oneida County District Attorney and Oneida County Sheriff, court mandated youth services providers and the Directors and Commissioners of several County Departments to the “Gang Summit” to begin the necessary dialogue on this topic.

Picente said the next phase of his strategy will include the input of community based service providers as to how their agencies are responding to youth violence and to explore what they believe adults should be doing to prevent youths from entering gangs or engaging in risky behavior. The final phase will be the preparation of a comprehensive plan to address the youth gang problem in Oneida County based on the ideas, energy and insight of all of the parties involved in the two previous phases. “By working together and using our most important County resource -- human knowledge and experience -- we can succeed in developing a coordinated community response to this situation,” he said.

Picente said that his effort will work with anti-gang projects being developed through the office of the Oneida County District Attorney. “The DA’s office is an invaluable partner because we need the justice system to be an active, involved partner if we are to develop a strategy that can address the issues of youth gangs by intervening all the way along the line – from trying to reduce the numbers of kids that join gangs to ensuring that those involved are both punished for their crimes and also steered towards a better life.”

 “Communities across the country are working to address issues of youth gangs, and we know there is no magic solution,” Picente said. “This summit meeting is designed to get all the key partners talking, so that everyone can develop a full understanding of who is doing what, what seems to be working, and what needs to be done to develop neighborhood partnerships. The action we will take must be coordinated and effective. Doing that requires some time to build teamwork, and this summit is an outstanding opportunity to do that. I hope to come out of this session with an inventory of promising practices we can build on to protect our community and help youth find better paths.”