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Chief says new strategies needed in fight against gangs

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Ralph Evangelous says Wilmington’s gang problem is the worst he’s seen since becoming police chief nine years ago.

Now that a 90-day cease fire is over, the chief says more than police need to be part of the fight.

“It’s usually the children that should be taking the mothers home, but it’s the mothers that are taking the children home,” Bishop James Utley of Love Center Church said.

Several mothers in our community lost their sons to gun violence over the past couple months. As a community that has been plagued with gang activity, Wilmington not seen a stop as a 90- day cease fire comes to an end.

“I am not going to sugar-coat it: our strategies have not worked in the past, and they are not working presently,” Evangelous said.

Over the past 90 days Chief Evangelous says his department arrested more than 100 people connected with the violence and added increased police presence in problem neighborhoods, but they are still fighting the battle with no end in sight.

“I don’t know we call it a success,” Evangelous said. “I’ll say what a success is: that we’ve got the community involved.”

Throughout the summer clergy held prayer walks, cook-outs and hosted midnight basketball. They say they saw upwards of 300 young people come out for these events, but Evangelous says these efforts need to continue before we lose those kids, too.

“We need to try and save them,” he said. “That is what this whole effort is about.”

An effort echoed by clergy.

“You’d be surprised how many young people are waiting to hear words of love,” Rev. Edward Williams of Prayer and Bible Ministries said.

Bishop Utley said, “We all came here on different ships, but we are now in the same boat.”

Chief Evangelous says WPD plans to push for legislation for harsher penalties. He also says police are working on other proposals with outside entities that could help end the violence. He would not go into detail, but says if those plans do come to fruition, the community will hear within the next month.

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