Saint Francis Medical Center, Grand Island Public Schools, and the Grand Island Police Department are getting closer to implementing a program that would focus on keeping kids out of gangs.
GIPD Chief Steve Lamken says it can be hard for law enforcement to eradicate gangs when they're only responding to crimes.
"We have an excellent gang information and intelligence system, we have worked to suppress gang activity in the city of Grand Island, but we're on the downstream side of it," he says.
So when Saint Francis Medical Center started looking for ideas for a grant geared toward preventing violence, the police recommended finding a program that could start helping kids and their families keep out of gangs.
"One of the areas we've targeted is proactive support for gang violence," says GIPS Associate Superintendent Dr. Robin Dexter. "So how do we educate kids about how to stay out of gangs? If you are in one, how to get out, how do you interact, and how do you make better choices."
GIPS says the program will be a first step in creating a school-wide anti-gang/anti-violence system.
Saint Francis Grants Coordinator Bill Brennan explains the concept as a four-level continuum they've developed. He says with the court system and police already making strides, it's their goal to focus on prevention.
"To really do something with the gang problem, to actually make a difference, we have to deal with it all four different levels," says Brennan.
While a program hasn't been finalized officials say it will revolve around a paid coordinator who works with volunteers who will work with kids most likely to join a gang.
"One of the things that we find with gangs is that kids that become potential gang members often really want to belong to something," says Brennan.
"It's not just at risk youth because there are lots of at risk youth who will never become affiliated with a gang, so this is sort of a special group of people," says Lamken.
GIPS says with the help of their school resource officers, they're confident they'll be able to identify students who need the most help right away.
A three year Mission and Ministry grant through Catholic Health Initiatives for just over $230,000 will get the program started.
Officials say they're hoping to select a program sometime this summer.