Program keeping teens off streets closes as police battle warm w - ABC6 - Providence, RI and New Bedford, MA News, Weather

Program keeping teens off streets closes as police battle warm weather crime wave

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By: Samantha Lavien
Twitter: @samanthalavien

As police grapple with an increase in crime on city streets, a program which has helped keep kids away from violence for years has shut down.

Project Night Vision closed last month mainly due to a lack of funding. The closure comes as police battle a wave of crime, usually associated with the warmer weather.

"Unfortunately when the weather breaks it's not uncommon for us to see an uptick in violence,” said Providence Police Chief, Col. Hugh Clements.

In the past two weeks, two men in the their twenty's were gunned down on city streets. Now, the founder of Project Night Vision, Kobi Dennis says he's concerned that without a place for kids to go, more will be thrust out into the danger.

"There's kids standing on the corner, there's kids hanging out,” said Dennis. “And, I don't want to act like Night Vision was the save all. But, I know one thing, when we were open kids knew they had somewhere to go that was a safe place."

Friday night some teens still returned to the Recreation Center where one of the programs was held. But, without the organized activities, it's dozens rather than hundreds who now show up.

The program provided free services from 6pm to 9pm which are the hours study's have shown teens are most likely to get into trouble.

"We saw thousands of kids, and right now we have kids that are in college and kids that stayed out of trouble and kids that are walking the straight and narrow because of the night vision program," said Dennis.

16-year-old Anthony Flores is one of them. He says Project Night Vision changed his life.

"It kept me off the streets and it just made me a better person and made me communicate with other people better and stuff like that," said Flores.

There are plans to re-start Project Night Vision, Dennis is working on getting a building and more funding. He’s hoping it will open up sometime next year.

(C) WLNE/TV 2014

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