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Gilbert moves on four points to address teen violence

Council reforming task force to continue subcommittee's work

Posted 4/17/24

Gilbert has four points moving forward to address teen violence in the community and will hand over further planning on the matter to the town’s Community Engagement Task Force.  

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Gilbert moves on four points to address teen violence

Council reforming task force to continue subcommittee's work


Gilbert has four points moving forward to address teen violence in the community and will hand over further planning on the matter to the town’s Community Engagement Task Force. 

Those actions came under town council direction April 16 as the teen violence subcommittee concluded its work with a report to council. 

The four points that the town is moving on are:  

  • Adding a police officer for community youth engagement to the fiscal year 2024-25 budget; 
  • Approving all three phases of the planned Family Advocacy Center in the fiscal years 2025-30 capital improvement plan; 
  • Strengthening the ties and responsibilities of council liaisons with the local school districts; 
  • Reviewing other cities’ ordinances on juvenile brass knuckle bans and parenting responsibilities with an eye toward Gilbert crafting its own such ordinances. 

Additionally, the Community Engagement Task Force will be reformed as a 14-member body, including three alternates and no fewer than four voting member teens, that will focus on teen violence. 

The task force also would have nonvoting advisory members from the school districts and other schools in town, as well as the police department. 

The current task force has seven active members, who can reapply, and four vacancies. The task force, which was formed in 2021 to provide a forum where matters of social welfare and community concern could be addressed, had original focus areas of domestic violence, human and sex trafficking, mental health, suicide prevention, homelessness, low-income challenge, and ensuring Gilbert is a kind, welcoming and inclusive community. It has completed its reports on those matters. 

Council could not, by state law, take formal action on any of the recommendations as they were not part of the meeting agenda. But council could and did direct staff on the matters, which will come back at the next meeting for formal adoption. 

Applications for the reconstituted task force will open Monday through the town clerk’s office. The council’s liaison to the task force, Kathy Tilque, said she wants the task force to be up and running by June. 

The council requested Town Attorney Christopher Payne to report back on other municipalities’ ordinances at the May 7 meeting. 

Working with schools was a point of emphasis for the subcommittee members.  

“The most important thing we should consider is working together with the school district,” said Vice Mayor Scott Anderson, who served as the chair of the subcommittee. 

Tilque had originally suggested a task force of nine voting adults and two teens, but Bongiovanni, recalling the teens who spoke at the last subcommittee meeting, said they were amazing and requested that at least four be teens. 

Councilmember Bobbi Buchli even suggested she would like to see six, but Tilque reminded council the task force would need to make quorum to even hold meetings and teens frequently have conflicts from school and other activities. 

The teens will be sophomores through seniors in the fall who live and attend school in Gilbert. 

Council members want to quickly have its liaisons to the school districts meet with those districts’ representatives to begin work on expanding liaison responsibilities. Those would include regular meetings on timely topics that would then be given as updates to the full council during council meetings. 

It also wants those meetings to include discussions on exploring opportunities to partner on consistent program/policies within the town’s schools and easy tip-line development/marketing, as recommended by Queen Creek resident and education consultant Katey McPherson in a 10-point plan presented to the subcommittee. 

Tilque’s plan for the task force is for the liaison or chair to report to council from September to November with a final report from the task force due in December. 

Before the discussion, community members continued to push for fast action during the “communications from citizens” portion of the meeting. 

“Those recommendations should be actioned on with haste,” resident Kristine Brennan said. “Please do not delay in implementing any of the recommendations. Should you delay, this will only serve to show Gilbert is not serious about trying to resolve the teen violence within our community.” 

Subcommittee members, however, expressed gratitude for the community’s input. 

“It’s nice to see that our community does exist,” Councilmember Jim Torgeson said. “At 288,000 people and wherever we are today, there is still community there, and people do care. "

We would like to invite our readers to submit their civil comments, pro or con, on this issue. Email AZOpinions@iniusa.org. Tom Blodgett can be reached by email at tblodgett@iniusa.org or follow him @sp_blodgett on X.