City officials witnessed an uptick in violence among Erie’s youth in 2022 and local leaders are making an effort to help combat the issue.

Bishop Dwane Brock says opportunities are available to combat youth violence in Erie, but he says there is only one problem.      

Deputy Chief of Erie City Police Rick Lorah says there is a troubling trend in violence among Erie’s youth.

He says he has noticed an increasing number of juvenile gun related crimes despite the number of homicides decreasing.

“We’ve seen the numbers grow from 2020, 2021, to 2022 it’s been steadily climbing in those years,” said Deputy Chief Rick Lorah, City of Erie Police Criminal Investigations Division.

He said the third quarter of 2022 involved 14 or15 gun related incidents with juveniles – bringing the total to approximately 34. A local leader said youth violence has been an ongoing issue in the city for many years.

“There seems to be a cultural shift going on right before our very eyes and our young people are plagued psychologically and environmentally with dealing with issues that they cannot handle,” said Bishop Dwane Brock, CEO, Eagle’s Nest Leadership Corporation.

Brock says he is dedicated to changing the shift in hopes of providing peace and tranquility but there is one problem they must overcome.

“Our challenge is to get our young people to take advantage of the opportunity. Opportunities are there, I want to say that again opportunities are there, our responsibility is to try to get our young people to take advantage of those opportunities,” Brock continued.

The Deputy Chief says an effort is also being made on the city’s behalf by bringing back the Juvenile Detective Division.

“We’re going to work really, really closely with juvenile probation. We’re going to work really closely with the district attorney’s office to find out ways to combat this juvenile violence. We’re going to work very closely with the school district police department,” Lorah explained.

Bishop Brock shares a message with the youth in Erie that he hopes resonates with them before it’s too late.

“There are serious consequences to violence. Whether it is someone being hurt, somone being killed, whether it’s someone going to jail, going to prison, someone going into the hospital there’s serious consequences,” Brock said.

Lorah says the Juvenile Detective Division has been operational since Jan. 2.