Anti-Gang Initiative Takes Root

The man playing a key role in the Omaha Police Department’s anti-gang initiatives is connecting with parents in a push to stop the damage in the streets.

Alberto Gonzales launched the campaign in South Omaha Wednesday.

The sessions were being conducted at a Boys Town property. While it’s not their program, the facility provided a quiet, clean space for parents to vent their concerns about kids and gangs.

Gang violence near 23rd and Vinton last October took the life of 19-year-old Julius Vaughn. It was likely the result of enemies from his past as a gang member.

Former gang member Bobby Franco said, “If you get caught up in it, you get caught up in it. I made the decision to leave and that was probably the best thing for me."

Franco is thriving, living a life full of potential now well into his 30s but his past life also took him through troubling waters of the gang world.

“It's not worth it,” he said. “Get out. These streets aren't yours. You don't own the streets."

Franco credits most of his success to Alberto Gonzales who has dedicated his life to the front lines of curbing the gang trends in Omaha.

Gonzales said, “It's kind of a comeback. That's why we've got to break this generational beast of gang violence in our community."

Gonzales will offer guidance, partly from texts yet mostly from life experience, to other families facing this issue in their own families.

“Like I've been telling everybody, we've got a lot of parents out there that just don't know what to do, and don't know where to go and don't know how to get the outreach to get the help that they need."

This gang prevention program launched at the South Omaha gathering but there are more chances to get involved. It's being offered every other Wednesday from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. at 4612 south 25th Street.

Gonzales says he expects to see plenty of new faces over the coming weeks.

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