Local News

Wake Tech Students Focus on Gangs in Mock Exercise

Posted December 2, 2006

It's been a time of economic growth and prosperity in Wake County recently, but gang activity has also been on the rise. That's why some criminal justice students have stepped into the real world to learn how to investigate gang-related violence.

Law-enforcement officials said there are 12 primary gangs in Wake County, some with two or more factions within the group. According to police, there are 1,500 known gang members in Raleigh alone.

Wake County Deputy Walter Martin knows what to look for when investigating gang activity. He has kept an eye on markings that have taken over part of a mobile home community off Poole Road in Raleigh in recent weeks.

"They are messages, they are a threat," Martin said. "This gang is telling them they're in control of the area, not the other gang, so it is, for lack of a better word, just like an animal marking its territory."

Martin said the rapid growth of the gangs has made it difficult for law enforcement to keep up.

"This is such a new topic, it changes daily, tactics used by them," he said.

Martin said part of getting better at fighting the gang problem is understanding all the intricacies. That's why Wake Tech criminal justice students have taken part in a role-playing exercise of a gang shootout.

"I was one of the investigators," student Jeremy Evans said. "Five of us trying to figure out what happened, how many victims, several witnesses here to interview, get statements."

This was the first time Wake Tech criminal justice students have staged a mock gang exercise. The exercise was planned after law enforcement officials told the school they needed to focus on gangs.

The mock investigators were instructed to pay attention to colors and symbols.

"I think they've made very few mistakes, and it's a really good learning experience when they see what they've done wrong," said criminal justice professor Janie Slaughter.

Slaughter said that experience that will help the students when they join the ranks of law enforcement themselves.

"There are more and more gangs coming into our area, and if they're ready for it when they graduate from our program, it makes it that much easier when they get on the street," she said.
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