Gang prevention task force progresses

By Paul Brizz

A community-wide task force is moving forward in their efforts to fight gangs in DeKalb.

“I am very happy with the progress that we have made considering that we only started this process six weeks ago,” Co-Chairman Edward Balli said.

There has been a lot of involvement from the community, he said. Business people, parents, students and a lot of community people and businesses have volunteered their time, he said.

“We have only had a few meetings but already we have done a lot. We have formed three sub-committees—youth, parents and community,” Co-Chairman Judy King said.

Each of the sub-committees will be responsible for developing ideas, issues and tasks for preventing gang violence.

“We have also heard discussion from the police on this issue as well as viewpoints from ex-gang members,” King said.

All of the people in this committee are volunteers, Balli said. They have their own responsiblities, but still find time to give their support to this committee, Balli said.

Ken Cyzen, an NIU senior criminology major, is volunteering his time to help “inform the youth that there are conventional constructive things to do to keep themselves occupied, which also are more self-rewarding.”

“People need to realize that it is not just an issue of ‘us versus them.’ (Gang members) are accepted in DeKalb, but we will not tolerate criminal gang activity,” he said.

“We have determined how many gangs are in DeKalb, the ages of those members and are ready to develop ways to combat gang crime in DeKalb,” Cyzen said.