Anti Gang Initiative Helped With Funding Grant - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

06/07/06 - Nacogdoches

Anti Gang Initiative Helped With Funding Grant

by Donna McCollum 

About 20 gang members armed with bats and tire irons attacked a 14-year-old member of a rival gang in a Houston city park Tuesday. A teenage girl is blamed for stabbing the boy to death. Nacogdoches police know local gang members are capable of the same kind of violence. Sgt. Butch White said, "Now they're hidden away. They're a little smarter about how they do things."

White is leading an anti gang initiative. He's armed with about $39,000 from the U.S. Department of Justice for high tech surveillance devices. White said, "The old style of surveillance has gone away because they also do counter surveillance, the crooks do."

Project Safe Neighborhoods always investigates obvious signs of gang activity like graffiti, but officers are seeing more drugs and weapons as older gang members become more interested in money than notoriety. White explained, "They're becoming more educated. They're a little more tactical about how they do things now. They're not drawing a lot of attention to themselves and they're able to get away with a little bit more." Some of federal funding will be used to develop a local gang data base to share with all law enforcement agencies.

Gang graffiti may be considered a minor offense, but it's a snapshot of a much bigger picture. It shows gangs are entering neighborhoods. A problem resident Debra Ann Jones has come to expect. "They're everywhere, so I guess sooner or later they're gonna come in your neighborhood." But something police are attempting to delay or prevent for as long as possible.

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