Law enforcement across the state work together to combat gangs - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Law enforcement across the state work together to combat gangs

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) -

Gangs thrive on being secretive and finding different ways to commit crimes without getting in trouble. But in Mississippi, agencies across the state have joined forces to create The Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators to work together to fight gang problems.

This week, members are in Biloxi for a yearly training conference.

Hattiesburg Police Captain Terrance Bullock said, "For the most part, the gangs on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi are located in Hattiesburg, Jackson, North Mississippi. And those gangs network, so it is very important for us gang investigators to network as well."

Bullock says the association gives law enforcement the opportunity to share successful ways of combating gang issues and provides a resource to share gang intelligence files.

"There is no need for us to re-invent the wheel," Bullock said.

While the association only meets once a year, members stay connected all the time, which Biloxi Public School officer Daisy Watson says is a big help.

"If I have a tattoo on a kid I'm not sure about it, I blast it out on e-mail in the association and someone up north may say, 'Oh, Daisy, we have seen that it comes from this gang. This is what they are involved in," Watson said.

The Mississippi Department of Corrections estimates there are 10,000 gang members throughout the state. Oxford Police Sergeant Bill Tate says those numbers are just starting to trickle into his area.

"They are getting started and everyone needs to be aware the activity is going on, but it is not as prevalent as it is in other parts of Mississippi," Tate said.

But with the help of law enforcement throughout the state, he is confident his team is armed with the tools to fight gang violence.

"If we know what is going on in Central and Southern Mississippi and we see some trends in North Mississippi, that will help us get ahead of it and be proactive rather than reactive," Tate said.

Bullock said, "We believe 100 percent in the association and that it is benefiting society as a whole and the state of Mississippi."

The Mississippi Association of Gang Investigators also works with The Department of Homeland Security to gain information and resources to combat gangs.

Copyright 2012 WLOX. All rights reserved.

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