Gulfport Police Chief and residents weigh in on ‘criminal subculture’

Gulfport Police Chief and residents weigh in on ‘criminal subculture’
People in Gulfport want the crime to end. (Source: Ray Price)

GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Gulfport police officers are still working to solve five violent crime scene with six people dead, but city officials believe a criminal subculture is to blame for the crimes.

“Mark my words, more is coming if we don’t get serious about it.” said Gulfport Police Chief Leonard Papania

The Gulfport Police Department is looking into six deaths in the span of about a month. They said there is only so much they can do without help from the public.

People who live in Gulfport said they can’t help but to be reactionary to what is happening. It’s mostly older residents who don’t know where the “no-snitching” mentality comes from.

“You want to holler about being a snitch. It’s too much crime going on. You have to stop somewhere,” said Richard Marsh, a Gulfport resident

The people in the community have raised families here and remember how quiet the streets used to be. Now they hear gunshots regularly.

“And we talk about being a tourist destination. People are not going to want to come if all this crime is going on here,” Marsh said.

One suspect is already in jail in connection to 16 year-old Imani Rogers’ death, but police are still trying to close the other cases. Part of the problem comes from witnesses not giving full details of the events to police.

“You have people engaging in criminal acts at the time of something very tragic happening,” Papania said,“and so to protect their own well-being, they don’t want to be forthright about what they observed.”

Police aren't the only ones frustrated with people who operate like that.

“We gotta understand something. If we don’t start speaking up and talking and telling the police, or telling people what is going on, we are going, this is going to continue to go on, and it’s going to get worse,” Marsh added.

How the criminal subculture began in Gulfport is debatable. Some blame bad parenting. Others will say social media plays a big part, but the common ground in the issue is that people need to work together to put an end to crime.

“We as a society are going to have to take a hard look at this and figure out what collectively can we do." Papania said.

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