Programs Help to Deter Gang Activity in Miami-Dade

The two detectives who were shot in northwest Miami-Dade Monday night were staking out gang activity, a problem that some local programs are trying to stop by deterring kids from joining gangs.

One program NBC 6 visited Tuesday has programs for kindergartners. The idea is to reach them before they become tempted by the gang life.

Michael Nolzile grew up in northwest Miami-Dade. He had help steering clear of the gangs that recruited from around Miami-Edison in the 1980s.

"It was pretty rough at those times. We were known as the Cocaine Cowboys," he said.

One of those things that helped was a church ministry that grew into Gang Alternative, a $3 million social services program he now heads.

"We're trying to create different things for our kids where we can reach to them, so we help mentor them to make proper decisions that will help them succeed in life," he said.

But it's not an easy task. There are dozens of gangs on the streets of northwest Miami-Dade, and in response, Miami-Dade police and the state attorney's office have set up a task force to respond to every contact shooting in the area to try to get witnesses and victims to cooperate and testify. Without that, what happens on the streets stays on the streets.

Monday night's shooting triggered a memory for Nolzile.

"I've seen that before, matter of fact a friend of mine who grew up in Gang Alternative got shot 26 times," he said.

One of the programs dedicated to his friend has up to 1,000 kids a day served by the group.

"Seeing the results, seeing the kids interacting with each other, seeing them engaging with each other, that's what I look forward to," he said.

While based in Little Haiti, Gang Alternative has sites from Homestead to North Miami and helps families as well as children.

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