Sept. 13, 2006 — As part of a nationwide effort to deal with gangs and gang-related violence, the U.S. Justice Department will hold a one-day gang summit Tuesday, Sept. 19 at Marriott Frenchman's Reef Beach Resort on St. Thomas.
According to Wesley Hand, the Justice Department's law enforcement coordinator, the event will bring together experts on gang issues, including Detective Rob Mateo of Polk County, Fla., and Darell Dones of the FBI's behavioral science unit in Quantico, Va.
Hand said that he expects government officials, community leaders, members of faith-based organizations, educators and individual members of the community to attend.
The goal is to understand, evaluate and discuss strategies for dealing with gang-related issues.
"It's to learn how to identify gangs, to understand gang psychology and why young people are attracted to gangs," Hand said, adding that it will also give the participants an opportunity to discuss the state of gangs in the territory.
"And what are we going to do about it," Hand said.
He said that while gangs do exist in the territory, the summit will help those attending develop a strategy to deal with the problem before it grows larger. "It's an opportunity to try and be proactive," he said.
The summit, which begins at 8:30 a.m., is the result of a nationwide effort by Attorney General Alberto Gonzalez to address the issues of gangs and gang violence.
Admission is free but participants and groups must register with Hand by Friday.
Call him at 774-5757, extension 240; or via e-mail.
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