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Information, community involvement keys to fighting gangs

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- As the gun and gang violence continues in the Port City some people want to step up and make a difference.

Law enforcement, clergy and now some in the plagued areas of the city agree community involvement is crucial for change.

Some say they feel like they are in a no-win situation. If they speak up, they run the risk of retaliation. If they stay silent, the cycle continues. But Sherri Ulcak is speaking out because she wants to see an end to the senseless violence.

"It makes me sick to my stomach," she said.

So she wants others to know how important their voice is.

"To speak and voice your opinion for the safety of your family, it's OK," Ulcak said.

The North Carolina Gang Investigators Association, which works all over the state, says arming law enforcement and the community with information is what is going to bring everyone together.

"If you do not have the community on board, you have already lost the fight," NCGIA's John-Paul Guarino said.

A fight some wage because it's all they know.

"A lot of these people don't necessarily want to be there," Ulcak said. "They have to be there, and because they have to be there, they become a product of their environment."

This is why some say education is so vital.

"This county has a phenomenon school system, and with those things, that is the backbone of a community," Michelle Guarino, of Gang Free NC, said.

A backbone some say parents need.

"Let's educate these adults raisings these children so they in turn can raise better children," Ulcak said.

While the New Hanover County Sheriff's Office took part in today's Gang Awareness Conference, the Wilmington Police Department wrapped up a two-day conference it hosted on bringing peace to the inner cities.

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