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KCTS 9 Connects

Gangs and Guns in Washington state - February 4, 2011

February 5, 2011

Gang violence is escalating especially in Central and Eastern Washington where law enforcement admit they're out-manned and outgunned. We take a hard look at the proliferation of gangs and guns, examine solutions, explore why kids join gangs, and hear from gang members about why they can't get out of the gang life. Washington state Attorney General Rob McKenna joins us to talk about solutions to gang violence.

Producer's Notes

Producer's Notes Gangs & Guns – Stop the Insanity

Albert Einstein once famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. That’s a little how it feels with Washington’s gang problem.

Hardly a week goes by without hearing about a gang-related shooting, stabbing, robbery or murder somewhere in our state. And not just in larger cities like Seattle, Tacoma or Yakima, but increasingly in small, rural communities like Mattawa, Toppenish, Royal City and Sunnyside.

The issue has prompted a spate of community meetings, forums and town halls where residents, police and politicians gather to discuss the problem, invariably calling for more aggressive law enforcement, tougher penalties, early intervention, after school programs, and holding parents more accountable. In my view, there is frequently a lot of hand-wringing, but little headway.

In this episode of KCTS 9 Connects we not only focus on the gang problem, but on new solutions. Our stories and interviews proceed from Einstein’s starting point – that it’s time for a new strategy against gang violence.

You’ll hear from Attorney General Rob McKenna about his anti-gang legislation making its way through the legislature, which proposes to use civil injunctions similar to restraining orders to combat organized gang activity.

We’ll take you to Yakima where they have started a first-of-its-kind, county-wide Gang Commission dedicated to directing youngsters away from gangs.

We’ll show you how residents in Toppenish, at once grief-stricken and fed-up with the violence, are getting organized themselves and taking back their city from gangs.

All new strategies and new solutions to deal with an old problem. Anything short of that would be insanity.

Ethan Morris