Midvale City fights back

MIDVALE Utah (ABC 4 News) - Fear in a community forced city leaders to take action against gangs. And now other communities may be watching what Midvale has done to tackle its gang problem.
MIDVALE Utah (ABC 4 News) – It was a call for help from a community ravaged by gangs.

And now Midvale could become a training ground for other communities with similar problems.

And it was due to city leaders taking action.

“Our Midvale community is very concerned about the security of their kids and families,” says Mauricio Agramont, executive director of Midvale’s Community Building Community.

That fear escalated in February when three were killed at a Midvale home.

Neighbors soon learned a gang member was arrested for the crime.

Ramona Velasquez-Hernandez has lived in Midvale for the past 14 years.

“We are scared especially for our young kids what will happen to them,” she says.

But a program called M.A.P. (Midvale Advancement Program) aimed at fighting off gangs was just getting underway when the triple murder happened. The city brought together schools, social services and police in an effort to fight back.

“It does create a lot of fear and actually resilience to fight that to fight back and take the community back,” says Agramont says. “We’ve now seen more parents bringing in their children for our programs.”

And with the help of schools, gang units stepped up efforts to make the streets safer.

“We've made quite a few arrests on the gang BST which is Barrio Small Town, major arrest and slowed down the activity,” says Lt. Marianne Suarez of the Metro Gang Unit.

At the annual Metro Gang Conference sponsored by the Salt Lake County Sheriff’s Office, Midvale's program was showcased in a breakout session.

“It’s a pilot program that will be a test case for other communities, says Moises Prospero of the Institute for Innovate Justice.

Prospero was a consultant for Midvale City. He analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of the community and pieced together the collaborative effort that brought police, schools, social workers and the city together.

He says it’s too early to see results but the community is actually working together.

“That is huge to be able to see school teacher, administrators talking with a detective in similar language,” he says. “The main goal is to help the community, help our children, help families.”
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