Center police say they're fighting a gang war

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - By Jena Johnson - email

CENTER, TX (KTRE) - First it was a war on drugs, now it's shifted to a war on gangs. Center Police say through the Safe Streets Task Force, they're able to focus on gang violence.

Gang signs spray painted across town. To outsiders, it's not what you expect to see in a small community. Those who have grown up in Center say it comes as no surprise. Lifelong resident Ruble Osby says it's only gotten worse.

"You see them all through the night, walking the streets, roaming the streets, which the police have cracked down on them and you see them run from the police, but I like what the police are doing," said Osby.

Police Chief Jim Albers walked through a territory marked by a gang. He says this is one of many.

"I assure you there certainly are gangs here. There are gangs here to ties to big gangs all over this country," said Albers.

The city continues to paint over gang graffiti, but it keeps reappearing. Police hope their initiative will help.

"There's some MS-13 graffiti that's come through. These are very violent gangs we certainly don't want them to get a foothold in Center," said Albers.

An undercover narcotics officer says targeting gangs will put drug pushers behind bars and make his job easier.

"The gangs and narcotics trade, it goes hand in hand. One feeds the other. It's that gangs that are supplying the dope on the street," said one undercover officer.

Through the Task Force, he says cleaning up problem streets won't be as challenging with federal funding.

"Manpower won't be an issue, funding won't be an issue, prosecution won't be an issue, so we're real excited about that," said Albers.

Osby says he's ready for the gangs to go away for good.

"It makes me feel bad to see the youngsters grow up here in this environment," said Osby.

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