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Non-profit holds conference aimed at reducing gang violence

Reducing gangs goal of new conference

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (WAVY) - Reducing gangs is something many people in Hampton Roads are working to do.  A non-profit brought them all together today for a gang reduction conference.

Organizers say the goal is to share ideas between different groups and then come up with new strategies to reduce gangs.  Plus, groups can only do so much when they work alone -- but together, they can make progress in reducing gangs. 

It was a day of ideas and action.

"It's not about a program, it's about a strategy," said Bobby Kipper, who is a former Newport News Police Officer and founder of the National Center for the Prevention of Community Violence (NCPCV).  

Tuesday marked the NCPCV's first "Gang Reduction Conference."

Kipper said, "We want to help be solvers of the problems and not create the problems."

In the morning, participants heard from panels featuring different stakeholders, including local law enforcement.

"It's not just a law enforcement issue," said Hampton Police Division Assistant Chief Orrin Gallop.  "It's more of a community relations type of issue, community engagement."

Gallop says the panels give people the chance to see other perspectives.

"The hard part of it is how do you take these different parts of the community and make them link together? All work functionally?" Gallop said.

However, all of the groups have similar goals.

"The same thing is to stop the guns from being in the hands of those that should not have them," said conference speaker Joan Turner, who is familiar with gang violence.

Turner's son got involved in gangs as early as 12 years old.  She hasn't seen him since November 2015.

"Quantez was involved with gun, drug and gang activity and I just feel deep in my heart that it had something to do with that," Turner said. 

That's why she spoke at today's event -- hoping to link the groups and their ideas together. 

"We believe that violence is a process, it's not an event," said Kipper.

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