City leaders talk about tragedies to combat youth violence

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DENVER -- It's been a violent year for Denver's young people. Numbers show juveniles arrested for firearms in the city are up compared to the past three years.

A shooting outside a middle school in August is what prompted city leaders to rethink their strategy to combat youth violence.

It's a strategy that involves the police chief, school system and other community partners.

“We’ve had some tragedies in our city," Denver Director of Public Safety Troy Riggs said. “We have far too many young people carrying weapons, far too many using weapons to solve situations.”

Ten months into 2018 and 27 juveniles have been arrested with a firearm. That's compared to 23 arrests in 2017, 23 arrests in 2016 and 25 arrests in 2015.

“We recognize the issue and we are working steadfast to address this, and the way that we’re going to address this is through ongoing partnerships," Denver Police Chief Paul Pazen said.

At a news conference on Wednesday, police and school officials explained how the city is working with various organizations to make sure young people have the resources they need.

“We’ve had long-standing partnerships with GRID, we’ve done proactive work in schools, we’ve  initiated the (Gang Rescue and Support Project) program in schools," Denver Public Schools Public Safety Chief Micheal Eaton said.

“Our primary focus is prevention, or second prevention, and intervention," GRASP Director Cisco Gallardo said. “We really try to get into schools because to me, the school is where they are there a lot of times and a lot of youth relationships happen at first in school.”

Mentorship is how GRASP tries to reach kids in a tough spot. It's the same approach Denver's director of public safety says is the real key to success.

“Mentor a young person, work through the schools, love them, help them, mentor them, hold them accountable," Riggs said.

GRASP is a nonprofit that operates on its own. Denver's GRID program works to combat gang violence in the city and among the youth.

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