MERIDEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Meriden has been stinging from a recent uptick in shootings. Police Chief Roberto Rosado has attributed the uptick to gang violence. The Meriden Police Department has teamed up with Waterbury police and the FBI to address gang violence in the region.
Another partnership is in a community center that’s trying to steer kids away from that type of lifestyle before getting lured into it.
Beat the Street Community Center uses a combination of positive community programs and mentors to reach out to Meriden’s youth.
“What we try to do is give our members of our community a place where they can feel safe and have constructive programs,” said Larry Pelletier, who runs Beat the Street.
Some of those programs include community service activities, dancing, sports, weight training, computer skills, and boxing. That last one is the program that brought Tim Gary there.
Gary is a former gang member who got enough encouragement from Pelletier at Beat the Street, that he now trains there –boxing — on a regular basis. Gary has dreams of becoming a pro boxer one day and he’s also pledging to help Pelletier deal with the nightmare on the streets by becoming a coach to other young members at the center.
News 8 asks Gary what Pelletier has provided him at the center.
“Bright future, and opening doors, show me the right ways,” he said.
Pelletier is proud of the decision Gary made because he says he knows other young people who have chosen the opposite path and have ended up as victims of some of the violence.
“They lost their lives to making a bad choice,” Pelletier said.
Gary says his new path in life will hopefully land him in a big-time boxing ring one day and hopefully turn other kids into winners in life.