Investigators use grant to combat gang activity - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Investigators use grant to combat gang activity

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March 24, 2006

Valdosta - Its a problem that no community wants to face.  "There is gang activity going on in Valdosta and Lowndes County," said Detective Choice Barnes, Gang Task Force Member.

The groups leave their marks on buildings and trains around town.  They also make their presence know through dangerous crimes. "We had some incidents over on Ponderosa Drive and I can tell you we've clearly linked those shootings to gangs," said Captain Brian Childress.

But the Valdosta Police Department and Lowndes County Sheriff's Office have joined forces to combat these crimes. They've formed a Gang Task Force, and recently received a $69,000 grant from the U.S. Attorney's Office to help take down gang members. "That will help us do our jobs quiet a bit better than we were doing it," said Barnes.

They're first move will be to purchase new gang intelligence software that will link together all the investigative agencies in Lowndes County. "When we deal with gang incidents or we identify a known gang member, we can put them into this database and share that information," said Childress.

The money will also help buy high tech surveillance equipment. "Night vision equipment, video equipment to record gang activity," said Childress.

And while all those things will help fight today's problems, they're also looking for ways to prevent future gang activity. That's why the grant will help start after school programs for local students. "We are doing things proactively to respond to it," said Childress.

"We can do first hand things with the young people, tell them what's going on out there in the streets," said Barnes. So they'll be prepared for the situations they may face in the future and stay away from dangerous gang activity.

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