Cops cracking down on gangs across Georgia, including CSRA
AUGUSTA, Ga. - Law enforcement agencies across Georgia are cracking down on gangs, which are cited as a big factor in an ongoing outbreak of violent crime across the CSRA.
Many of the more than 90 victims in the region – as well as a lot of the suspects – have been young men. And the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office says gangs are a key culprit.
The latest numbers show more than 71,000 gang members in Georgia, and police say they’re expecting more recruiting and more crime in the summer months.
In Richmond County, deputies are targeting gangs in crime hotspots using surveillance cameras and other tools.
And across the state, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Gang Task Force is deploying agents to cut down on gang growth and crime.
“We identify who the criminals are, who they network with, who they interact with, who they commit crimes with, and sometimes our local partner will identify a violent crime and that matches with the intel we have on a violent crime,” GBI agent Ken Howard said. “Our gangs are recruiting all over the school systems in the state of Georgia.”
Recruiting can start in elementary school, but a new law is targeting these efforts. Starting July 1, penalties will be tougher for anyone recruiting a minor into a gang.
Howard said gangs are behind most of Georgia’s violent crimes, such as murder, robbery, rape, and aggravated assault.
Experts estimate a violent crime occurs every 15 minutes in Georgia.
Howard said during summer, kids have less supervision.
The GBI is calling on parents and community members to help.
Orrin Hudson, founder of Be Someone, joined a gang as a teenager. He now mentors teenagers to keep them from going down a bad path.
“I’m teaching young people how to make good decisions,” Hudson said. “In my teens, I was making bad choices following the follower. Gang stuff is only going to end in your getting killed or being locked up in jail.”
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