A former police officer turned psychologist will be giving a daylong presentation about gangs Friday in Kennewick.
Al Valdez, a nationally recognized expert on gang sociology and psychology, was invited to speak in the Tri-Cities by a community group of educators, police officers, prosecutors, churches and nonprofits.
The event is from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the South Hills Church, 3700 W. 27th Ave., in Kennewick. Doors open at 7:30 a.m., and registrations will be accepted at the door. The cost to attend is $10.
Chris Littrell, a Kennewick police gang detective, said Valdez's presentations about socioeconomic and psychological issues that gang members face "really hit the nail on the head."
Littrell said the information isn't presented as excuses for kids who join gangs, but if community leaders can understand the contributing factors then they can try to find ways to alleviate some of those issues.
"Anyone can benefit from (Valdez's presentation)," Littrell said. "When I go out and talk to the community about gangs, it is very seldom that I get a group that says, 'Yep, we already knew that.' "
Having informed citizens, teachers, parents and pastors are key to keeping kids out of gangs and stopping gang violence, he said.
Littrell is also part of a group called TC-GIVES, which stands for Tri-Cities Gang Intervention Valuing Education and Safety.
TC-GIVES was formed about two years ago by the Juvenile Justice Advisory Board and charged with finding a way to address the increasing gang problem in the Tri-Cities by looking at prevention, intervention, suppression and re-entry programs.
TC-GIVES, along with the Educational Service District 123, Kennewick Police Department, Benton-Franklin Juvenile Justice Center and South Hills Church, worked together to bring Valdez to the Tri-Cities.
For more information about Friday's event, call Lauren Schoenwald at 544-5766.