Father of crime victim says not enough funding given to gang prevention

SAN DIEGO - A recent report by the Commission on Gang Prevention and Intervention recommends steps should be taken as early as preschool to stop children from joining gangs.

Azim Khamisa, whose son was murdered by a gang member, says more needs to be done when it comes to funding. Khamisa says too much money is going toward incarceration versus prevention.

Khamisa's son, Tariq, was delivering pizzas in North Park when he was gunned down. The gang member who killed him was 14 years old.

"It brought my life to a crashing halt," Khamisa said.

Since his son's murder in 1995, Khamisa has dedicated his life to stopping gang violence. He speaks to students all over the world.

"I saw that there were victims at both ends of the gun," he said. "I saw my son was a victim of the 14-year-old and essentially saw him as a victim of our society."

According to the report, there are 91 separate gangs in San Diego. There are about 4,100 gang members. The report was presented by the gang commission to the Public Safety and Livable Neighborhoods Committee.

Through the Tariq Khamisa Foundation, Khamisa speaks to children about alternatives to gangs. His program focuses on middle school children, although he agrees with the report that prevention should start as early as possible.

However, Khamisa believes that money is allocated in the wrong places.

"The issue is not programs. The issue is how do we take some of this money and reallocate it. It's not new money. It's being spent on incarceration anyway. We're building six prisons and one university," Khamisa said.

The state spends nearly five times more on prisoners than on students over the past 20 years, according to California Budget Project. For 2013-2014, the state was expected to spend about $60,000 for each inmate versus $8,219 for each K-12 students.

"If there is enough political will, hopefully they can put more money to prevention," Khamisa said.

The report heads next to the city council.

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