DeSoto County Communities Form Anti-Gang Task Force - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

DeSoto County Communities Form Anti-Gang Task Force

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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DESOTO COUNTY (FOX13) - There is one certainty about the epidemic of Crime in America. It knows no boundaries. Communities in DeSoto County have in years past been reluctant to acknowledge Memphis' gang problems had filtered down to them. But, recent gang-related violence has now convinced county law enforcement it's time to pull their heads out of the sand.

It was a law enforcement "band of brothers" warning to all gang members hoping to set up shop and do business or bring violence to the doorstep of DeSoto County communities.

“We don't like to say that we have a gang problem. We do have a gang problem. Anytime you have activities we have going on at this time, this is something that gotta be dealt with” says Bill Rasco, Sheriff of DeSoto County.

Don Gammage, an Olive Branch Police Chief says, “If Southaven's got a problem, it's Olive Branch's problem. Horn Lake got a problem; it's Olive Branch's problem.

Olive Branch Police Chief, Don Gammage, played host to County Sheriff, Bill Rasco, his fellow police chiefs from Southaven and Horn Lake and DeSoto County District Attorney, John Champion, at a news conference. They officially announced the formation of a joint anti-gang task force. It is being hailed as a proactive reaction to an increase in the number of gang-related crimes recently on the uptake in the North Mississippi communities.

Darryl Whaley, the Horn Lake Police Chief, says, “We're gonna have people who work on this continually and they focus on this type of activity all the time.

Each law enforcement agency will appoint officers and be deputized by Sheriff Rasco to conduct raids and investigations all over the county into alleged gang activities with the goal of more prosecutions of offenders by Champion's office.

DeSoto County District Attorney, John Champion says, “If we can start collating the information that we're getting, then it makes our ability to prove the additional elements that we have proved much easier for us. And in turn, gives us the ability to get stiffer sentences on the crimes.”

Besides exchanging information with each other, the task force will also be in contact with federal law enforcement as well as the Memphis Police Department, whose levels of crime activity have traditionally had a direct effect on our neighbors south of the border.

Southaven Police Chief, Tom Long says, “DeSoto County was almost neutral territory, if you will. We had a lot of gang members living here. They would be from different gangs. They seemed to exist together. What we've seen, in the last year to year and a half is more a younger element coming in and trying to establish a territory. And this is the first time we've kind of addressed this.”

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