ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. (WNCN) — Booker T. Theater in downtown Rocky Mount was packed Thursday evening.

Everyone had their eyes glued to a presentation by Rocky Mount police.

“We see involvement of gangs on the decline.  I recognize there’s still work we need to do,” said Rocky Mount Police Chief Robert Hassell.

Thursday’s meeting was surrounding a conversation about gangs.  Hassell said the idea to do this evolved after getting calls from people in the community.

“I had one grandparent maybe a few months back.  She called me and said, chief there’s a situation that happened at my apartment.  I don’t know what’s going on.  So, she sent me a video of it,” he explained.

This grandmother was concerned about her grandchildren’s possible involvement in gangs.

The police department said Thursday there were 21 gangs in Rocky Mount last year – with 156 total gangs statewide. 

Thursday, officers told people to be on the lookout for specific signs, graffiti, and even emojis.

Concerned parents had the chance to connect with resources in area, like the Boys & Girls Club.

“Times have changed.  We have to evolve with the times.  That’s why it’s important to have events like this so we can become educated,” mentioned Ron Green.

Green is the CEO of Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tar River Region.  He said it’s important to give young people a chance.

“We have to give every young person an opportunity to be in an environment where they are not stereotyped,” he stated.

Rocky Mount is not the only area working to slow down gang activity.

Wake County recently announced nearly $2 million from the state will go toward mentorship programs for at-risk youth. 

Last year, Durham leaders approved continuing an agreement with Durham County to fund the gang reduction strategy.

In Rocky Mount, Green said he hopes the conversations continue.

“As the community goes we got to make sure that we are looking out for each other,” he said.