The Toms River branch of the Ocean County Library will host a gang awareness presentation to shed light on gang activity in the area.
Gang activity is present throughout the country, state and Ocean County and a series of gang awareness programs are aimed to make residents more aware of this growing issue, the library announced Thursday.
Three programs aimed at teens, parents, educators, clergy and other concerned adults about the menace of gangs will take place next month.
Each program is designed to educate and present strategies detailing how residents can deal with gangs. Local police departments, township and educational officials will have the opportunity to discuss gang presence with residents and what actions are being taken to combat it.
Edwin Torres, a retired New Jersey Police Lieutenant and Juvenile Gang Expert, will explain the warning signs of gang presence in a neighborhood and why kids join them. He will also give a brief history of gangs, gang markings, such as colors, symbols and clothing use to mark out territory and distinguish each other from rival gangs.
Torres will also discuss gang presence in schools and popular culture, and what to look for when gang involvement is suspected and where to go for help.
The series is funded through a community collaboration of the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders, the Ocean County Youth Service Commission, the Ocean County Health Department, the Ocean County Superior Court Juvenile Probation Division, the Ocean County Library, the Municipal Alliance Project and the New Jersey Governor’s Council on Alcoholism and Drug Abuse.
Teens ages 12 and up are encouraged to attend and will receive two community service hours. Light refreshments will be served and professional development hours are offered. The programs are free and open to the public but registration is required. Sign in for all programs begins at 6:15 p.m. The program starts promptly at 6:30 p.m. Light refreshments will be served. To register call the branch or visit www.theoceancountylibrary.org.
The programs will be held at the following library branches:
• Point Pleasant Borough Branch, Wednesday, April 5, 834 Beaver Dam, Rd., (732) 295-1555
• Toms River Branch, Thursday, April 6, 101 Washington St., (732) 349-6200
• Manchester Branch, Thursday, April 13, 211 Colonial Drive, (732) 657-7600