WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) The Wichita Police Department recently sent out letters to parents of teenagers who are known gang members.
Lieutenant Jeff Gilmore with the Gang/Felony Assault Section says they sent out 74 certified letters to parents of teens. The letter lets them know their child is on the gang list and steps can be taken to get off the list.
Community organizer Brandon Johnson worked with Gilmore to create the letter.
"What they're doing with the juveniles is kind of a new step," Johnson said. "You can come in and talk to Lt. Gilmore about why your child's name is on that list, then they'll talk about ways to move your child in the right direction."
Wichita Police said there are 96 teens currently on that list. Some have already turned 18, which means they are now part of the 5,000 plus list of adult gang members. David Gilkey with Rise Up for Youth says that number is growing.
"You are going to have parents that are upset because they didn't even know their child was on the list, so they will have to explain why they are," he said.
A teen has to meet three out of ten criteria before their name is put on the list. Examples: hanging out in known gang areas, wearing gang colored clothes or committing gang-related crimes.
Sherri Johnson has lived in Wichita for 30 years, she says this is a problem that doesn't have to exist here.
"They need centers where the kids can go and you know, hang out, instead of just hanging out in the street," she said.
Parents can call 316.268.4407 and contact Lt. Gilmore for more information.