Officials Take Steps To Combat Gang Activity In Lakewood

Roundtable_Gang_Deterrence_PR tlsPHOTO: It’s no secret that Lakewood Township has gangs. What’s important is that Mayor Menashe Miller and Lakewood Township officials are taking steps to institute an anti-gang program by applying for a three-year federal grant of $750,000.00. With grant money, Lakewood officials will develop a program focusing on primary prevention; i.e., looking at children between the ages of seven and 14.

According to Joanne Bergin, the grant writer, studies conducted by the federal government have shown that prevention at the very youngest age is the most helpful in gang prevention. 

Bergin said, “Mayor Miller started a steering committee of people from the police department, township officials, the school board, and several community groups, including people from the Teen Center, Omega 13, and the Homework Club, among others, at the Saint Barnabas Healthcare Systems Institute for Prevention.  The goal of the steering committee was to come up with programs and initiatives they could implement to prevent children from being drawn into gang activities.”

The steering committee was charged with realistically looking at a gang-prevention program that would include programs and services not only in school but after school and during the summer time; programs for families to help them help their kids; and programs in the community that would help everyone form a bond that would help and protect children.

Bergin said, “It is a wonderful opportunity, a very positive program. We have had folks join us from the state police, the Ocean County prosecutor’s office, and the New Jersey State Parole Office. Everybody has been active and engaged; and together we can actually make a huge difference. That is why we are putting this grant application together.”

Committeeman Meir Lichtenstein, representing Lakewood Township, met with officials from other towns about their programs and projects to combat the appeal of gangs, as earlier reported. Committeeman Lichtenstein said, “The mayor of Irvington told us that the police department on its own cannot handle a growing gang problem in a town.  Intervention in the schools, and intervention from clergy or community groups that have outreach programs groups are necessary. The mayor of Plainfield said they have worked something out so that their schools remain open, as well as some of the gyms and some of the sporting facilities.  The mayor of Irvington, their safety director, and the police chief described a program they instituted involving some of their officers gaining trust in certain neighborhoods. They also spoke about agency interaction, which included the federal government, the county government, the state government, and the municipal government.        

“The grant we are seeking recognizes children who should not be gang members but who can potentially fall into that pitfall because of a lack of structure at home or because of a lack of structure after school, making the street more enticing to them.  Our police department is also working with various agencies. For example, Colonel Fuentez from the New Jersey State Police has agreed to commit resources under Chief Lawson’s direction to help out in Lakewood. These are all things the mayor and I would like to explore.” 

Mayor Miller reported that since about six weeks ago there have been at least two law enforcement operations that have resulted in dozens of gang-related arrests, taking narcotics and guns off the streets of Lakewood. Mayor Miller said, “Chief Lawson reported that there has been a serious decline in gang-related activities over the past six to seven weeks here in Lakewood. Certainly the efforts our police department is putting forth combined with the grant and the social aspects we need to work on are going to help us make some serious headway.”

Committee Lichtenstein urges residents to call the Quality of Life hotline at 732-942-5003 to report unusual activity in any abandoned houses or apartments; or if they notice any drug activity, illegal activity, or gang activity in general; or if they see any areas tagged by gang graffiti. TLS.

Photo  Caption: Lakewood community members meet with Township officials to discuss gang deterrence strategies. (Left to right) Ken Seda, President Puerto Rican Civic Association; Onaje Williams; Dr. Michael Rush, Dir. Omega 13;  Colin Lewis, Community Activist; Fred Rush, President NAACP; Dep.Chief Charles Smith, Lakewood Police Dept.; Meir Lichtenstein, Lakewood Township Committeeman; Menashe Miller, Lakewood Mayor; and Kamess Haki, S.A.V.E.

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  1. And how good did the DARE program work out? That’s been around for about 10 years now and the kids are still on drugs. Until you start throwing the PARENTS in jail nothing will happen. Just a waste of money.

  2. Generally, being prophylactic is the proper way to solve a problem. In this instance, does the general rule apply? The government spends so much money on public schools. Does throwing more money at the schools help? Is there any empirical evidence that this program works? Or is this just another waste of money?

  3. I agree, the gov spends/wastes a lot of money, but if the federal gov’t is handing out money, why not take it? It’s going to someone regardless, and we could surely use the help. Even if it stops just ONE kid from being a gang member, drug dealer, or murderer, it’s one less.

  4. And how many females do you have in the committee? What do you think that there aren’t any females in the gangs either?

  5. what we need is curtis silwa
    He has his group have done wonderful jobs where ever they were called into action. Lakewood does not have the police to do the job properly

  6. Look unless u gonna start giving these kids incentives like paying them to come to after school programs or doing things that take up there time by paying them with that 750 k nothing else will work tell them we got activities and they gonna get paid is what draws attention do something no other city is doing because I don’t see a city that has solved the problem

  7. maybe if we chopped down all that forest, there would be no place to hide. Why are there all those ATV tracks deep in the woods? I always wondered if that isn’t the best place to do all this stuff?

  8. police officers were laid off because of budget cuts, yet we can find close to 1 million dollars for kids after school programs to prevent them from becoming gang members??? Maybe we should HIRE MORE POLICE OFFICERS with this money, that has also proven to be an effective way of combatting gangs. and by the way I do support the idea of Mr. Sliwa and the Guardian angels coming to Lakewood, If the township can’t get the job done. They do have a proven record of success. Same as Lakewood cittizen’s safety patrol.

  9. Gangs are the cancers around our community. Prevention methods are needed, along with strict enforcement, good intellegence, abd sound law enforcement tactics.

    The judicial system is then needed to act swiftly and effectively by separating violent criminals from the society that they prey on.

    There is no room for gangs in Lakewood Township. We need to work every day to help gang members understand that they are not welcome and will not be tollerated.

  10. Such a shame to see such ignorance. How can people ignorant anothers way of life pass judgement. I know most people on this web site claim to be “religious” so how can such religious people part take in something so negative; such as posting comments referring to money spent to show a young person a different way of life? My mother always told me ” if you dont have anything nice to say, maybe you should say nothing at all.”

    Perhaps it should be spent on another Yeshiva, no that wouldnt be a waste, would it? A child is only a product of his or her parents teachings. There are ignorant youth in all shades and religions, trust me ! Some of these kids just don’t have the resources others are fortunate to have.

    The Dare Program in my day, old timer, worked out very well! Koodos to officer Mitch. My hat also goes off to Kamess (msp) . There are still a few people who care perhaps there are just more who don’t! Maybe, just maybe thats part of the problem.

    I grew up here! I do not rob, steal, or look to decieve anyone! I am not on drugs nor am I or have I ever been in a gang!

    People, lets learn to get to know your neighbor, teach your children about individuality, the color of my skin does not define me. My children are in the public school system, I hope someone makes a difference before they are exposed to what today’s teens are facing. My child is not waste, my child has potential and I pray as I am also active in the community that a change will come!

    With that being said, show me where to sigh up and I will be the first female to join the Anti-Gang wagon.

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