Anti-gang initiative expands to Richmond's Northside

By Jola Szubielski - bio | email
Posted by Phil Riggan - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Today, state and local leaders are ramping up efforts in the fight against crime, this time in Richmond's Northside.

They're trying to get a "grip" on gang violence in the community through prevention and intervention.

Grip -- or the Gang Reduction and Intervention Program -- is already a staple for crime fighting efforts in communities like Southside Richmond and Petersburg.

Now officials are expanding this popular program north of the James.

Richmond's Southside community has had a handle on the grip program for quite some time.

"We've also seen crime reported more often and people going to court and actually testifying with crime, we've seen more participation and more trust with the citizens with the police department. its been a very very positive affect on the community," said Esther Anderson, Director of GRIP.

And it's so successful that the program is now expanding to the Northside.

"Major crimes dropped drastically and we're really happy about that, but really its about public value to the city, and we think we've taken very significant steps in improving south richmond through the GRIP initiative, and we hope to replicate that," said Assistant Chief David McCoy of Richmond Police Department.

The North GRIP program will be modeled after the Southside initiative.

The key to fighting gang activity: education and prevention, and community involvement.

Things like after school programs, mentoring, job placement and training at area one-stops.

Results aren't visible overnight, but once the program takes hold on a community, it makes a lasting impression.

"For things to turn out really well, it takes dedication, time, and perserverance," Anderson said.

"We have a homegrown product that we believe works and its been adopted throughout the country so we're excited to expand to northside," McCoy said.

Northside GRIP is already in the works, and there's a lot of planning to still be done.  But Richmond police hope to have it officially off the ground in about six months.

(c) 2009. WWBT, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.