Young adults in Yakima like brothers Alan and Shi Anderson say being approached by gangs is the hardest thing they face living in Yakima.
"My choice: I don't do that," Alan said. "Most of my friends die from gang banging."
It's a lifestyle he doesn't want to see his younger brother fall into. There's an uneasy feeling almost every day.
"You can't even walk the streets," Shi said.
He feels like he will have to leave Yakima to steer clear of gangs altogether.
"I love Yakima, this is my hometown. But, I'm trying to go somewhere in life, you know, get out of Yakima," he said. "I have to go to other states. That's what I'm trying to do."
The problems with gangs are still getting worse. According to YPD, the problems have tripled from 2011 to 2012. Police recorded 526 gang related incidents last year compared to 171 the year before. All of this points to the urgency of the Gang Free Initiative that's still organizing. So far, three agencies are on board to work with 60 at risk kids this year through mentoring, tutoring and other development programs. Ten kids will be juvenile offenders already in gangs. The YMCA, the Yakima Police Athletic League and the Union Gospel Mission will get to work first.
"Our goal is to get them back into school, get them, help them with an understanding that an education is valuable, that they are valued," said Sara Holtzinger, the development director of Union Gospel Mission.
The programs are on pace to begin in February. Police say there are roughly 40 active gangs here in Yakima. A law enforcement survey found 15 percent of middle school kids have some level of gang involvement.