Sheriff presents solutions to gang problem

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Sheriff Tom Jones addressed a crowd of more than 400 concerned citizens at the Larson Housing area town hall meeting Wednesday evening.

MOSES LAKE — Hundreds of concerned residents were on hand Wednesday night as the sheriff's office and county officials addressed recent gang violence and plans to combat the growing problem.

Sheriff Tom Jones organized the town hall meeting at the Larson Housing area in the wake of recent gang-related shootings, including the murder of 16-year-old Brandon Mende Feb. 16. While the meeting specifically dealt with the Larson Housing area, Jones said the department's plan to stop gang violence applies countywide. More than 400 people were in attendance.

"I want all Grant County communities to know we are going to be working with them to help stop gang violence," he said. "These efforts will require the input and participation from the public."

The sheriff's office has implemented a seven-person Proactive Gang Unit using existing deputies reassigned from other duties, Jones said. The unit will be used countywide for gang-related incidents and will address crime problems in specific areas experiencing a high rate of gang activity, narcotics activity and violent crimes.

"I want everyone to come away from this meeting focused on what we can all do to team up and help stop gang violence in all Grant County communities," Jones said.

The sheriff's office is planning to hold a series of town hall meetings to continue to discuss long term goals, including starting a block watch program in the Larson Housing area.

For the full story, read Friday’s Columbia Basin Herald. A video can be found here.

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