State News

Charlotte school system identifies 70 gangs

Posted August 13, 2008 6:31 a.m. EDT
Updated August 13, 2008 7:54 a.m. EDT

— Charlotte-Mecklenburg school officials say there are about 70 gangs operating in the county's schools, with about 450 members.

The news comes one day after Wake County school officials said they are looking for ways to combat their own gang problems.

Wake County reported 692 gang incidents last year, compared with 520 the year before – representing a 33 percent increase.

Fifty percent of Wake's gang-related incidents last year happened in the high schools, with 49 percent in middle schools

According to a recent study, there are 13 recognized gangs in Wake County, with the Bloods being the most prominent. There are about 2,400 known gang members or associates in the county.

Associates are members who might not live in the area, but who have spent considerable time or have been arrested locally.

The Charlotte school district issued a report Tuesday on what they say is the first comprehensive report on gangs in schools.

Superintendent Peter Gorman told the school board that it's important not to underestimate the impact of gang activity in schools, The Charlotte Observer reported.

Board member Larry Gauvreau said the report identifies the gangs by name and members should be expelled.

The report said the gangs in Charlotte schools are not the kind of violent, organized "notorious" gangs in larger cities such as Los Angeles.

The report analyzed discipline records in the schools for five years, concluding gang activity has a relatively minor impact.

Wake and Durham counties are sharing in a $2.5 million federal grant to combat gang activity, and Wake County also received $1.4 million from the state – Durham got $1.2 million – to fight gangs.

Recent legislation signed into law by Gov. Mike Easley also increases the punishment for crimes committed by gang members. Lawmakers set aside $10 million in the budget to pay for the anti-gang measure.