Gangs used to be thought of as an urban problem, a product of big cities. But as the Daily Post's recent three-part series "Gangs of Gwinnett" detailed, they are now very much a suburban problem as well.
Fortunately, that has been recognized by the Gwinnett County Police Department. And the department's response - a relaunched task force consisting of roughly 30 officers - has netted more than 750 arrests since March.
It's an effort much different from 10 years ago when only five officers were in the unit, and one that is very needed to confront the burgeoning problem. It is estimated that 90 gangs exist in Gwinnett County, and they aren't limited to any one geographical region or socioeconomic class.
Police say they are no longer surprised to investigate gang activity where both parents are working professionals who live in nice neighborhoods. It is a far-reaching problem, born of boredom and disenchantment, that requires the task force's attention seven days a week.
The unit's goal is to "crush" the gangs, and staff writer Josh Green said he was impressed by how specific the crackdown is and how motivated the officers are. But they need help. Residents must stay vigilant in their neighborhoods, reporting suspicious activity when they see it.
Parents need to pay closer attention to their kids - what they're doing, where they're going, who they're spending their time with. You're not being nosy if you ask questions of your kids. You're being a parent. If a kid feels like a member of a family, he's less likely to want to be a member of a gang.
With the dismantling of the La Gran Familila organization, Gwinnett's gang situation is better than it was. The hard work of law enforcement has resulted in removing a large number of very violent criminals and drug dealers from our streets.
But the lure of easy money in one of the country's largest drug supply hubs is too great. And the flash and cash flaunted by gangsters will always be a beacon for wannabe tough-guys who feel too poor, too bullied and too left out. In that light, it's imperative that the police continue an active, aggressive fight against those who choose gang life.
Gangs of Gwinnett Part 1
Gangs of Gwinnett Part 2
Gangs of Gwinnett Part 3