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KFOX14 Investigates: Gang intervention for students

File: Student (KFOX)

A rise in gang cases in the city of El Paso also means an increase in gang activity in schools.

The El Paso Independent School District police department works to keep students out of gangs and focused on their school work.

Now, a recent grant from the U.S. Department of Justice is paying for overtime, for officers to tackle gang suppression.

“I like to think we are being very proactive,” said EPISD PD Chief of Police Victor Araiza.

As KFOX14 Investigates has reported, the El Paso Police Department's gang unit caseload has doubled in the last year, mostly due to the drug trade.

“If you see increases in the general public you will see increases in public schools,” said Araiza.

In 2015-2016 EPISD also reported 10 instances of gang-related violence, up slightly from the year before.

“A lot of times kids that are involved in this kind of activity come from single parent homes. They have issues within their home life and they are searching for some sense of involvement and some sense of community they aren't getting,” said Araiza.

EPISD police offer proactive classes for parents and students to help parents with discipline or attitude issues and teach them how to spot signs, such as drawing new symbols or a change in appearance.

And in a new generation there are new things parents need to be aware of.

“Now social media is now that new wall where you would spray paint your tag or threat towards someone else. So it’s very important for parents to monitor social media accounts

The district also has a gang avoidance program. They also do interventions upon referral or request.

Officers also mentor students who've been involved in criminal activity outside of class

“The decisions they make today can have ripples out into their future,” Araiza said.

They also taken students downtown to the county jail to show them the realities of where the gang lifestyle can lead.

“That its not all that glamorous. We want to show them the repercussions for their actions,” he said.

Araiza said early intervention is key, to steer students away from gang lifestyle and help them focus on their futures.

“One of the main things that we want is, we want our kids in school. We want them to be successful,” he said.

Police say another thing parents can also use an at-home drug testing kit to talk to their kids about drug use.

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