Business owners offer fixes to combat gangs

Business owners were asked what they could do to improve the community's response to gang activities. Here are a few of their responses:

"Community involvement and awareness of the scope of developing gang-related issues and working with local government."

"Help [the] community find a way to have place for kids to go to — to belong — to be constructive."

"Be informed, be involved and support those on the front line — educators and law enforcement."

"Having a community that is willing to stand together rather than living just for one's self or just for one's own family. This means being willing to donate time and resources to others. Mentoring programs and activities, better education opportunities, confidence and hope for a brighter future are great tools to help prevent a child from joining a gang."

"Put pressure on government to increase funding for gang task force and after-school activities."

"Help people see that gang members are human beings, too, struggling to get their needs met. In their minds, their gangs are often the only family they've known. As humans, we fear what we don't understand."

"By continuing to be part of the community conversation, and by putting aside my judgments and prejudices."

"We can all help by first honestly looking at the underlying issues that lead to gang activity and developing community programs that address those issues. ... The community leaders need to find a way to reprioritize the issues regarding our community to deal with this problem in a comprehensive way. If we don't, there will just be more tragic deaths and we will have to keep building more jails and prison cells."

Is there a gang problem here?

When asked whether they perceived gangs to be a problem in their communities, business owners and community leaders responded:

68 percent — yes

10 percent — no

22 percent — did not know

Are there gang members at school?

When asked whether any of the students at their school belonged to gangs, students responded:

5 percent — yes

25 percent — no

70 percent — did not know

Is the response to gangs working?

When asked whether they were satisfied with the current response to gang activity by law enforcement, social service agencies and schools, business owners and community leaders responded:

18 percent — satisfied

38 percent — not satisfied

44 percent — did not know

What are the signs of gang activity?

Top five perceptions of community leaders regarding gang activity in their communities:

1. Increase in graffiti / vandalism (80.4 percent)

2. Increase in drug crimes (53.3 percent)

3. Increase in violent crime (50 percent)

4. Increase in fear for safety (41.3 percent)

5. Increase in property crime (39.1 percent)

Gang-related or not?

Comparison of incidents of gang-related vs. non-gang-related criminal mischief over time in Jackson County

Gang-related Non-gang-related

2009 113 1,400

2010 356 1,593

2011 714 1,236

2012 133 1,190


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