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Gang prevention

Posted: February 6, 2017 2:47 p.m.
Updated: February 7, 2017 1:00 a.m.

Does Kershaw County have a gang problem?

It depends who you ask.

A horrible tragedy that occurred several years ago had one positive outcome in that it galvanized the community to come together to ensure such a thing would not happen again. For the most part these efforts have borne fruit.

Unfortunately, in recent times the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office arrested several individuals with ties to known criminal gangs. One of the more troubling aspects in at least one situation was the allegation that some of the subjects who were arrested on a variety of charges, including possession of stolen vehicles as well as narcotics and weapons charges had been cruising through a local high school driving stolen vehicles, flashing gang signs and otherwise displaying what some consider recruitment activities just prior to their arrests.

But back to the original question -- the short answer is, “Everyone has a gang problem,” and as is the case regarding criminal activity in general, too often it is something of a game of Whack-a-Mole between law enforcement and criminal elements.  In other words, the sad reality is a community relocates rather than eradicates criminal activity.

That means the question we really need to ask is not whether we have a problem but how best can we address and prevent the problem.

One important point to remember is crime prevention and gang prevention requires a concerted effort from more than just law enforcement. In other words, the level of criminal activity in a given place directly correlates to what the community will tolerate. If no one alerts law enforcement to criminal activity, then that criminal activity increases. If no one points out potential gang activity, then gang activity increases. 

So the crux of any solution comes down to a healthy, symbiotic relationship between law enforcement and the community.  

In Kershaw County, we are fortunate to have not only strong front-line support from law enforcement but many organizations and individuals in the community putting forth heroic efforts every day -- the Jackson Teen Center/Boys and Girls Club immediately comes to mind. 

But it ultimately comes down to each of us taking some level of community stewardship seriously. Whether one volunteers to work with at-risk youth or simply alerts law enforcement to unusual activity in places it shouldn’t be occurring rather than ignoring it, each individual effort is helpful, useful and vitally important. 

It takes a village, indeed.


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