U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, PA-11, and state Sen. John Yudichak, 14th District, will hold an event to help combat increasing gang activity in Northeastern Pennsylvania. The two lawmakers are sponsoring a Gang Awareness and Action Panel Discussion on Wednesday, June 8, at 6 p.m. in Room K-1 of the Kostos Building on the Penn State Hazleton Campus, University Drive, Sugarloaf Township. The event is open to the public free of charge.

"As a former mayor, I've seen firsthand the problems that gangs cause here in Northeastern Pennsylvania. One of the best weapons we have in the fight against the spread of gangs is education. I'm pleased to bring federal resources to the table and to sponsor this gang awareness event with state Senator Yudichak because our constituents need to know how to protect themselves as gangs try to extend their influence, recruit more of our children, and destroy our way of life," Barletta said.

"Congressman Barletta and I have been meeting and working on this important issue for several months and wanted to provide access to the top local and national gang experts. Our purpose is to better inform law enforcement, school officials and members of the public to further the discussion and come up with a plan on how we can effectively combat this growing threat to all of us," Yudichak added.

The evening will feature a presentation from D. Darrell Dones, supervisory special agent of the Behavioral Science Unit of the FBI, a nationally renowned gang expert. The presentation will be followed by a discussion with panelists Kent Lane of the Pennsylvania State Police; Detective Chris Orozco of the Hazleton Police Department, who started the city's Gang Task Force; Chief Larry Semensa of the Old Forge Police Department, a nationally recognized expert on outlaw motorcycle gangs; Luzerne County District Attorney Jackie Musto Caroll; and Lackawanna County District Attorney Andrew Jarbola. The moderator for the discussion will be Andy Mehalshick of WBRE-TV.

The experts will share what has worked in other areas of country. There will be time for audience members to ask questions and hear suggestions on what steps they can take in their community to help law enforcement reduce gang activity. This event follows the release of a major study from the Department of Justice on the growing problem of gangs in the Northeastern Pennsylvania.

For more information contact Barletta's office toll-free at (855) 241-5144 or Yudichak's office at (570) 883-4690.