RALEIGH, N.C. — Raleigh police want to see more officers dedicated to fighting gangs.
Officers have been keeping track of gang-related crime and they say it is city-wide, including areas such as southeast Raleigh around Bragg and Wilmington streets and along Raleigh and Poole roads. Police also say part of northeast Raleigh has seen some kind of gang activity.
"They're tagging, putting their name out there, tagging their territory," said one gang member, who wished to remain anonymous.
During a city budget workshop Monday, Chief Jane Perlov explained there were just two known gangs in Raleigh in 2000. That number has grown to 12 gangs with hundreds of members. She asked the City Council for money for five detectives and one sergeant for a gang unit.
"Gang activity and gang-related crime is absolutely on the rise in Raleigh as it is all over the nation," she said.
While more gang signs and graffiti are popping up more often in Raleigh, police say they want people to keep it in perspective.
"It is not an alarming rate, but we do see this emerging trend and we want to take steps to stop it in its tracks," said Sgt. Tim Sincock, of the Raleigh Police Department.
The department is asking for 23 new officers in next year's budget. Hiring the six members of the new gang unit would cost the city about $370,000.
Other areas of North Carolina are dealing with their share of gang problems. Durham is battling an estimated 36 active gangs. They have 28 officers dedicated to the task. In May, they installed a second gang unit. It helped in the arrest of 60 gang members during a 90-day trial. Cumberland, Harnett and Johnston counties also have gang units.