Every other year, the North County Gang Commission and County of San Diego host the Building Better Futures Summit, a free community event to provide residents with the latest information on gang reduction, intervention, prevention and suppression efforts in North County. The most recent summit was held earlier this year at the North Inland Live Well Center in Escondido on Thursday, February 2, 2017.
Over 180 individuals representing the community, mental health, child welfare, public health, education and law enforcement came together to participate in the summit. This year’s event focused on the issue of human trafficking and the role of technology.
Following morning remarks from County Board Supervisors Bill Horn and Kristin Gaspar, the North County Gang Commission presented Community and Law Enforcement awards to individuals and organizations actively addressing the issue of gangs and gang violence in the region. This year’s recipients included the Boys & Girls Club of Oceanside and Detective Nicholas Rodelo with the Escondido Police Department. The summit also included special presentations from San Diego Association of Government’s (SANDAG) Criminal Justice Research Division, the Escondido Police Department’s Gang Investigation Unit, North County Lifeline, and the San Diego Human Trafficking Task Force. Chief Deputy District Attorney Summer Stephan also provided updates and insights on ongoing efforts in San Diego to specifically combat human trafficking, including the successful “The Ugly Truth” campaign launched last summer by her office.
Attendees were given multiple opportunities to network with one another, participate in tabletop discussions about specific gang-related issues they are seeing, and provide feedback to the North County Gang Commission to help inform regional priorities.
“No one in this room is questioning the fact that this is a real issue, that the gangs are here; we’ve got the statistics and the cases to prove it,” said Laurie Hauf, Chair of the North County Gang Commission. “But we have made a lot of great strides to address this issue, here in North San Diego and throughout San Diego County, and we will continue to do so because of the people in this room today. Everyone here is passionate about learning how they can help and keeping our communities safe.
All attendees received a working lunch and participant packet, which included copies of speaker presentations and information on local city-specific gang prevention and intervention collaboratives open to public participation. As one attendee shared, “Today has really inspired me to do even more to prevent gang activity in our community. I want to get more involved in the lives of at-risk youth and show them that there are other paths.”
The event culminated in a post-summit workshop on cyber security presented by local expert Jon Moffat. Moffat shared information on key things parents and youth service providers should know to help children and families navigate today’s technology safely and avoid common scams and predators online.