Law enforcement lends helping hand to troubled youth

LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Being a mentor for a child who is at risk could motivate them in many different ways and that is what law enforcement in Angelina County is aiming for.

For the past four years, Bridging The Gap has allowed at risk youth to develop relationships with different agencies in Angelina County.

"We try to have a lot of our kids come out; have law enforcement come out to honor them and thank them. It's a good time for kids to meet law enforcement and it's a good time for us to meet law enforcement," said Juvenile Probation Director Mark Gorman.

The director of juvenile probation in Angelina County says many of the kids who attended Friday's Bridging The Gap event are currently on probation or apart of prevention and intervention programs.

"In efforts to bridge that gap we all collaborate. We're all after that common goal, which is to create conforming citizens. This is where we establish the rapport with the kids. They see us in a different light," Gorman said.

Sheriff Greg Sanches feels there's a commitment law enforcement can make to the youth by fostering positive relationships.

"We as police officers and other mentors need to always stay in contact with our young people," Sanches said.

Judge Bob Inselmann has worked with at risk youth for many years helping to boost their self-esteem and encourage them.

"Some kids are public safety and they need to be removed from our society, but the vast majority of kids just need a little more attention and reset where they've been to get them on a new path," Inselmann said. "I encourage them to keep their grades up in school, obey their parents and find a mentor."

In 2012, out of the 8,000 plus youth that range from age 10 to 16, roughly 200 of them were referred to the county's juvenile services.

"We care about their lives and what happens to them," Sanches said.

"We know that if a kid goes into detention we know the reality of it; that's a high risk factor," Gorman said. "So, our job is to keep them on the streets out in the community and engaging in conforming activities."

Probation officers want to have a positive affect on the lives of the youth in Angelina County. This summer, they're encouraging them to engage in conforming community activities.

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