Cumberland County's Gang Unit Stays Busy
Posted August 19, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — The Cumberland County Sheriff's Office is one of a growing number of agencies that has a specific unit to deal with gang activity. The walls of the county's gang unit are covered with gang-related materials and symbols. The unit tries to identify gang members and counsel them.
Deputies say they had identified several of the suspects as gang members several weeks ago.
When asked if there was anything that might have been done about the known gang members before this crime spree, Lt. Fred Petty of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office said no, that there is no crime in just being in a gang.
Cumberland County's Gang Unit has identified 200 groups that it calls gangs or "wannabe" gangs. Editor's Note:
Gang activity is more prevalent than many people realize. According to the FBI 400,000 youths are currently in gangs nationwide.
Violent street gangs are active in 94 percent of all large and medium sized cities, and many larger cities have up to 40 gangs involved in turf wars.
In 1996, the federal government passed laws to crack down on gangs. The Gang Violence Act doubles penalties if gang members are convicted of a any of a number of crimes including murder, drug trafficking and weapons possession.