Task Force To Tackle Canyon County Violence Solutions Sought In Wake Of Shootings And Stabbing

In the wake of several drive-by shootings and a stabbing, a task force will probe violence in Canyon County with the support of Gov. Phil Batt.

The move was triggered by a meeting between the governor and Jesse Berain, Office of Aging director.

Batt was “extremely concerned” about violence in the Hispanic community, Berain said.

Sixteen-year-old Augustin Hernandez was shot to death Aug. 6 at his home in Nampa.

Hours earlier, shots rang out in Caldwell in a unrelated drive-by shooting. A Nampa home was the target of gunfire on Aug. 11. No injuries were reported in the last two.

On Aug. 17, a Caldwell laborer was found stabbed to death at home.

The panel could be formed within two months to hunt for solutions. A preview occurred Tuesday night in the Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Nampa, as a half-dozen people brainstormed causes and solutions.

Among the suggestions is a Police Athletic League program in Nampa, like Caldwell’s, in which youths box and engage in other sports.

Youngsters who put their energies in crime would instead divert them to more constructive activities, said moderator Omar Valverde, adult protection coordinator of the Idaho Office on Aging.

Adults need to intervene with youths in the fifth through eighth grades.

“After that, they are more apt to be resistant,” said Valverde, a former Canyon County public defender.

Maria Nava, a Nampa mother of two and Idaho Department of Employment farm worker advocate, said the problem has roots in high school dropout rates - 40 to 60 percent among Hispanics in Idaho.

A lack of affordable housing creates crowding that discourages studies and leads youths to crime, she said.

Nampa Police officer Mike Flores said Hispanic youths lack self-esteem and things to do. Parents need to take responsibility.

Even so, the schools, business and government need to help, some said, because it is a community, not a Hispanic, problem.

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