OGDEN — Talks of local gangs and opioids headlined the second day of the 2018 Northern Utah Gang and Youth Violence Conference.
Stephanie Siete was one of the morning speakers for the conference, which took place Thursday at the Ogden Megaplex.
Siete illustrated to dozens who attended what opioid addiction looks like around the country. Graphs showed the significant upward trend in opioid-related overdose deaths in the past years in America.
While the United States only consists of 5 percent of the world’s population, Siete said the country consumes around 60 percent of the world’s supply of illicit drugs.
She went on to indicate that the country consumes 80 percent of the global supply of opioids, according to a 2017 study from the Arizona Department of Health Services.
Siete also talked about how vaping is becoming a more popular trend with children and the health risks that accompany that trend.
She encouraged parents to have the tough conversations with their children about drugs and vaping now, instead of waiting until they’re older, because they’re likely dealing with those issues by the time they are 11 or 12 years old.
Later in the day, members of Salt Lake and Ogden gang task force units talked to community members about gang activities in their communities and how to spot members.
Police believe there are around 800-850 alleged gang members in the Weber County area. This consists of all types of gangs, including Hispanic gangs, gangs of different races and white supremacist gangs.
Gang detectives encouraged parents to know the warning signs that could hint that their child has joined a gang. Some warning signs for parents include someone wearing all of one color, or a child not wanting to bring their friends around the house.
Parents are encouraged to use resources like the Choose Gang Free program, an initiative based in Utah that offers resources and prevention tools for both kids and parents.
Officials also discussed the different types of gangs in Utah and Weber County in the effort of educating those in attendance.
Police also touted new tools like the Utah Crime Gun Intelligence Center as weapons in their arsenal to combat gang crimes in the state.
The talks come just a day after U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke at the Utah State Capitol regarding Project Safe Neighborhoods, an initiative to combat violent crime in Ogden across the county.