Goshen News, Goshen, IN

Breaking News

April 28, 2012

Gang expert: Be firm, be fair

ELKHART —  A father and his young son are close together, their faces filling the frame. The little boy’s face is visible. Dad’s is partly obscured by a black bandanna.

Dad’s in a gang.

“Think about it,” Rich Matteson said Friday at the Elkhart FOP lodge, referencing the photo on the overhead screen. “There’s dad. In a few years (the child’s) going to be your kindergarten student. How are you going to deal with that?”

Matteson is the director of transportation and safety for Concord Community Schools. Formerly full-time with the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department, he’s now a reserve. Matteson’s also a local source for gang information, and that’s what he shared during a conference Friday involving educators, police and probation officers and youth and social workers.

One piece of advice? Find out more about where at-risk young people are coming from, Matteson said.

“You don’t have to live the life, folks, but take the time to learn about it,” he said. “...Go out there and look how these kids live. Say, ‘No, you’re right, I’ve never lived this life, but I’m not afraid to come into your hood.’”

Matteson cautioned against trying to intimidate gang members. When interacting with them, he stressed, don’t allow them to use gang hand signs.

“This is a sign of disrespect,” he said.

Treat them as individuals, Matteson said, and be decisive, firm and fair. And show some respect, too.

“If you give them a little respect, guys, it will take you a long, long way,” he said. “You’re not going to save every one of them. But if you build this reputation of showing them respect, they know you’re decisive and firm and fair, you treat everybody the same — your name will be all over the street.”

Gangs are in the recruitment business, Matteson said, adding that students who are struggling in school are prime targets.

“‘I can have you making more money out on the street than you ever will by getting a high school education,’” Matteson paraphrased the gang offer.

Matteson also described the different stages of gang involvement, from hardcore down to “wannabe.” Be wary of wannabes, he said.

“You’ve got to be careful,” he said. “They’ve got something to prove to everybody. ...They are looking to build their street rep, whether it’s through assaulting, stealing, burglaries, whatever it is.”

In Matteson’s view, gang involvement isn’t age-specific.

“Educators, law enforcement — we’re dealing with kids in third and fourth grade who are gang members,” he said. “I’ve got people in their 60s who are still claiming the gang they started with when they were 13, 14.”

Conference attendees saw examples of gang colors, apparel and hand signs. Then there’s the graffiti, which Matteson said marks gang territory and is often used to communicate threats and challenges to other gangs.

“Guys, graffiti is nothing more than a newspaper,” Matteson said. “...If you know what you’re looking for, it will tell you what’s going on.”  

Matteson acknowledged that cleaning up graffiti is expensive for business owners. He feels they should do it anyway.

Matteson said the notion that gang crimes only target other gang members is false. The whole community sees graffiti defacement. And killings impact more than the victim.

“When they do a drive-by, are they only affecting the gang member they’re shooting at? No,” he said. “...There are kids who don’t even know who (the victims) are in school — because most of our high schools around here are pretty big — but at the same time, trust me, it sets them back as well. Because they’ve lost one of their classmates.

“There’s going to be one less name that’s going to be read the day they graduate.”

Friday’s conference was sponsored by Elkhart County Support Our Kids, a group focused on bettering the lives of local young people.

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • CORRECTION: Outdoor worship, barbecue at Goshen Christian Reformed Church not happening It was incorrectly reported in Wednesday's edition — the Briefly column on A3 — that Goshen Christian Reformed Church was to have an outdoor worship service and barbecue Thursday through Saturday. The event was submitted by a church with the same nam

    August 21, 2014

  • South Ninth Street area under boil water order South Ninth Street, between East Jackson and Franklin streets in Goshen, is under a boil water order from noon until further notice.

    August 21, 2014

  • Police cars hit during multi-county chase According to Middlebury police, officer Gary Smith attempted to locate a silver Saturn leaving McDonald’s on Ind. 13, near U.S. 20 in Middlebury at 11:30 p.m. Monday.

    August 19, 2014

  • GN140820 hospital network hacked.jpg Kosciusko Community, Lutheran hospital among 206 hacked

    WARSAW — Community Health Systems, which operates 206 hospitals including Kosciusko Community Hospital and Lutheran Hospital in Fort Wayne, announced Monday that hackers recently broke into its computers and stole data on 4.5 million patients.

    August 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rick Perry Indicted [GOSHEN NEWS] Texas' Gov. Perry indicted AUSTIN, Texas — A grand jury indicted Texas Gov. Rick Perry on Friday for abusing the powers of his office by carrying out a threat to veto funding for state prosecutors investigating public corruption — making the possible 2016 presidential hopeful his state's first indicted governor in nearly a century.

    August 15, 2014 1 Photo

  • Rail work to close U.S. 33 Sunday, Monday

    The Indiana Department of Transportation announced that U.S. 33 at Ninth Street, is scheduled to close the morning of Sunday, Aug. 17 as Norfolk Southern rebuilds its railroad crossing. 

    August 13, 2014

  • Obit Robin Williams_Selm.jpg Robin Williams, manic comedy star, dead at 63

    SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Robin Williams, the Academy Award winner and comic supernova whose explosions of pop culture riffs and impressions dazzled audiences for decades and made him a gleamy-eyed laureate for the Information Age, died Monday in an apparent suicide. He was 63.

    August 11, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Israel Palestinians-12 [GOSHEN NEWS] Israel accepts Egypt's Gaza cease-fire proposal CAIRO — Israel and the Hamas militant group on Sunday accepted a renewed Egyptian cease-fire proposal, clearing the way for the resumption of talks on a long-term truce meant to end a month of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip that has taken nearly 2,000 lives.

    August 10, 2014 1 Photo

  • Mideast Iraq [GOSHEN NEWS] US officials: New round of airstrikes near Irbil NEW DELHI — American officials say the U.S. launched a second round of airstrikes against Islamic State targets near Irbil on Friday, using drones and fighter jets. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to

    August 8, 2014 1 Photo

  • Millersburg under boil order

    August 5, 2014

Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
AP Video
Okla. Policeman Accused of Sex Assaults on Duty Raw: Egypt Bus Crash Kills at Least 33 Two Bodies Found in Adjacent Yards Dominican Republic Bans Miley Cyrus Concert Raw: Israeli Air Strike in Gaza Raw: Rescue Efforts Suspended at Japan Landslide Raw: Bodies of MH17 Victims Arrive in Malaysia Raw: Smaller Marches in Ferguson Marathon Suspect's Friend Pleads Guilty Attorney: Utah Eatery Had Other Chemical Burn Farm Resurgence Grows With Younger Crowd Microbrewery Chooses Special Can for Its Beer Ky. Firefighters Hurt in Ice Bucket Challenge Federal Investigation Will Look at Use of Force Community Deals With Michael Brown Aftermath US: We Do Not Pay Ransom to Terrorists Ferguson Teachers Training to Deal With Trauma Jon Hamm on the Unrest in Ferguson Tit for Tat? McDonald's Shuttered in Moscow Life on the Professional Video Game Circuit
Poll

Three Goshen elementary schools — Chandler, Chamberlain and West Goshen — are providing free meals to all students during the school year as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Community Eligibility Provision of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010. Nearly 80 percent of students at Chandler, 89 percent of students at Chamberlain and 78 percent of students at West Goshen already qualify for free or reduced-price lunches based on their family income. How do you feel about the new lunch program?

I think it’s a good idea to feed all the students free of charge
I think those who can afford it should pay for their school meals
I think all students should be required to pay for their school meals
     View Results