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Yakima receives grant to fight gangs

YAKIMA –Yakima County has received a second state grant to support gang intervention efforts in three cities and could be expanded to other communities.

The most recent grant of $105,000, awarded this week, will be added to an earlier $69,000 grant to create community resource centers in Yakima, Toppenish and Sunnyside and hire a third gang intervention specialist.

Harold Delia, administrative consultant to county courts, said the project, known as the Gang Resistance and Intervention Project, is a primary initiative of the Yakima County Gang Commission. The commission includes the county and all its cities, created to deal with gang problems.

Delia described the resource centers as one-stop places where parents and youth can go for information and services. Those services could come from agencies and organizations already working in gang intervention, such as Central Washington Comprehensive Mental Health, school districts and community nonprofit organizations.

“We are a novel county in terms of all of us working together to help the three cities,” Delia said. “Other cities have said we will step back and allow these three cities to develop a model and we will follow that up in our own cities.”

The third gang intervention specialist to be hired also will work with the county’s juvenile gang court.

The $105,000 grant is one of only two awarded in the state by the Washington State Partnership Council on Juvenile Justice, an advisory board to Gov. Chris Gregoire on juvenile justice issues. The other recipient is Pierce County.

Delia said the city of Yakima allocated funds from its budget to help pay for the Yakima resource center.

He added the county hopes the program will show success during the 11-month term of the grant and can be renewed in the state’s coming biennial budget.