The Salt Lake City Gang Task Force issued a plea Monday for help from state government, saying tougher laws and more detention facilities for hard-core juvenile delinquents are critical to prevent the type of incidents that left two teens dead Sunday.
"The only way I know how to do that is to go to the governor and say `help,' " Salt Lake City Mayor Deedee Corradini said.The response was immediate. Gov. Mike Leavitt planned to meet Tuesday with Corradini to share plans for immediate and more long-term methods of addressing youth violence.
"This is a generation-long, community-wide challenge," Leavitt said. "We have a four-part strategy for addressing it. By far, the most important element is changing the hearts of young people."
But during its emergency meeting Monday, the task force was more concerned with getting violent juveniles off the streets.
"These two young men, I would propose, should not have been out on the streets," Corradini said.
The real tragedy, Corradini said, is that the system "failed these kids."
Teddy Davis, 16, and Torrie Lambrose, 17, who died in the shootout in a supermarket parking lot Sunday, had lengthy arrests records, Salt Lake City Police Chief Ruben Ortega said Monday.
Lambrose had been arrested 12 times, beginning at age 13 when he was picked up for shoplifting, Ortega said. Other offenses included vandalism, grand theft auto, juvenile delinquency and assault, Ortega said. Lambrose had dropped out of school four years ago.
Davis, too, had a lengthy arrest record that stretched back to age 9. His record included arrests for vandalism, theft, resisting police and carrying a concealed weapon. He'd participated in the shooting that occurred along the Days of '47 parade route, Ortega said.
"Why did it escalate with these two kids' records?" Corradini asked. "Why didn't we get those two kids when they were 9 and 13?"
The city's efforts to curb gang violence have made progress, Corradini said. The number of gang-related crimes has dropped 33 percent over the past year. But more needs to be done to get at hard-core gang members, the task force said.
The task force called for:
- 25 more probation officers
- Charging 16- and 17-year-old juveniles arrested for first-time violent offenses as adults
- Adding at least 160 more beds for juvenile offenders
- Testing every juvenile arrested on a felony charge for substance abuse
- Money to fund alternatives to incarcerating first-time, nonviolent juvenile offenders
- Felony charges for adults who provide firearms or incendiary devices to juveniles
- Expanding Salt Lake City's truancy program valley-wide
- Money to fund after-school programs in school buildings
"We have to break down the bureaucratic barriers and make these things happen," said Councilman Stuart Reid, representative for District 1, which includes the neighborhood where the shootings occurred.