COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Columbus community leaders are reacting to the city’s police announcement to start a new gang enforcement unit, saying they’re hopeful it will be successful but remain cautiously optimistic.
“Gang violence has literally traumatized the entire community, there is no doubt about it,” said Zerqa Abid, the executive director of MY Project USA, adding any help is better than no help at this point.
She works directly with a lot of families who live in the Wedgewood community on the city’s west side, where, Abid said, gang violence has traumatized the community.
Columbus Division of Police Assistant Chief Lashanna Potts said the unit would be called Gang Enforcement, with the sole purpose of targeting adult gang members to get them off the streets. The officers involved will be specially trained, in marked cars and uniforms.
Abid said she has faith that this will work, but this is only half the solution being that many children are also involved in gangs.
She hopes police will come to community leaders like herself, who see the violence firsthand, for advice moving forward.
“If this commission, this unit is going to work with the community leaders and work along with us, I think this could make a big difference and it could really help,” Abid said. “But at the same time, only time will tell what is going to be helpful for us.”
Abid said it has been really good to see the police department’s leadership going to places like Wedgewood and talking to residents and leaders. She firmly believes that fixing the gang problem will be a collaboration between law enforcement and community groups.