Former gang members said DOJ will make a difference in Springfield

(WICS)

Springfield is one of 12 cities chosen to be part of a new federal program to fight crime.

Former Chicago gang members said they're glad the Department of Justice chose the capital city.

"I think that was the most strategic move the DOJ could have made," said Larry "Hollywood" Washington.

Washington was a gang member of Chicago's south side who now mentors troubled youth in Springfield.

He said the Department of Justice choosing Springfield to implement a three-year plan to fight crime, sends a strong message.

"We hear your cry in Chicago, but we have smaller cities that are crying a little harder that we could put a grab on, invest money into them, to stop some of the problems they're going through before it becomes another Chicago or mini-Chicago," Washington said.

He said implementing the new federal program in Chicago, instead of Springfield, wouldn't have been a good idea.

"It would just have the criminals and the gangs migrate to smaller cities like Springfield, Decatur or Champaign."

Rodney Mullen is a former gang member from the west side of Chicago.

He's also trying to reduce violence in Springfield by mentoring troubled youth.

Mullen said the federal government, working with local organizations, will help overcome violence in Springfield.

"If we take heed of the problem that's going on around us, and try to be focused on the solution, trying to stop the problem and stop the violence, I think that we can overcome this," Mullen said.

The National Public Safety Partnership was revealed by Attorney General Jeff Sessions Tuesday.

They haven't released many details of the program.

It's part of an executive order signed in February by President Donald Trump to give local law enforcement help from the Department of Justice.

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