V-GAP ready to set agenda for 2014 with new strategies

Dec. 18, 2013 @ 10:12 PM

The four Vance Gang Awareness Partnership faith talk forums wrapped up Tuesday night at Davis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church on Chestnut Street.

The V-GAP committee unveils their 2014 agenda this morning at the Aycock Recreation Center. Included, according to committee chairman Kanika Turrentine, will be plans for stepping beyond education to implementing prevention, intervention and recovery strategies.

A large conference event in March is slated to include convention-style activities over several hours. The “Champions for Children” event will include four breakout sessions on specific topics following a presentation by a keynote speaker.

Through the faith talk forums, parents and caregivers were able to hear from gang officers with the police department and sheriff’s office visiting their communities specifically on four nights this month.

“It was a good turnout,” said Lt. Irvin Robinson of the Henderson Police Department. “I went to all four of them. We were targeting more of the communities to encourage awareness. I think they are learning more of what is going on with gangs.”

Presenters included Sgt. Lamont Burchette of the police department and Melissa Elliott, a gang officer with the Vance County Sheriff’s Office.

“There was a very good presentation on what to look out for,” said Rev. Joseph Ratliff. He is pastor of Shiloh Baptist Church on South College Street where the first faith forum took place.

“We learned what their turf markings look like,” he said. “This is something we need to know about and not turn our heads away from. Knowledge is power. We need to respond and reach out to our youth, to the whole young person, and train them against gang involvement — help our young people to stay safe and alert.”

Gang, or turf markings, include clothing symbols as well as graffiti, Ratliff said. According to presenters, the turf marking may include shoes tied at the laces and tossed to hang over a power or phone line spanning a street.

Gang colors are another signal to caring adults, that a child they love could be getting suckered into “gang-banging.”

Turrentine said she is encouraged by the steps being taken to make the community, and Henderson as a whole, more resistant to gangs.

“I think everyone who attended was understanding that this is an issue they need to be committed to, and they were supportive of future efforts,” Turrentine said. “This is an important issue, and we are able and willing to do more.”

The faith talk forums drew about 30 to each, with sessions at First United Methodist Church, Spring Street Missionary Baptist Church and Davis Chapel Missionary Baptist Church following the Shiloh event. The largest attendance, about 40, came to Tuesday’s wrap-up meeting at Davis Chapel.

According to Turrentine on Wednesday, today’s presentation is for local officials and stakeholders so they understand the V-GAP transition coming up in 2014, when they will begin adding prevention, intervention and recovery strategies to their educational efforts.

“It will outline our future plan for exactly what our goals are and what support we will need,” she said.


Contact the writer at mfisher@hendersondispatch.com.