03/09/2015 – Tulsa police said they are working to prevent Hispanic children from turning to a life of crime.
Officials said that there are four large Hispanic gangs in Tulsa. Activity in those gangs hasn’t grown over the years, but police are concerned that it could with Tulsa Public Schools dropout rates for Hispanic students at 50 percent.
“Everyone is trying to figure out how do we get ahead of this,” said Officer Jesse Guardiola.
Guardiola is the police department’s director for Hispanic outreach and said their primary goal is to keep Hispanic youth in Tulsa away from gang and criminal life.
“They’re looking for a way to belong, and they go towards the route of gangs,” Guardiola said.
He said the problem starts when the kids drop out of school.
“You’re sitting in a perfect storm right now with the dropout rate being at almost 50 percent from Tulsa, an impoverished community and a community that feels like they don’t belong,” Guardiola said.
Police work with Tulsa Public School teachers and other community members to identify the signs that a student is going to drop out of if they are involved in criminal or gang activity.
Officials said that currently, the majority of Tulsa’s Hispanic youth is in elementary or middle school. Guardiola said it is important to start outreach now before the children become teenagers.
Fox 23 reports on how Tulsa police work to keep Hispanic kids out of gangs: