Gang Activity On the Rise

By: Natalie Swaby
By: Natalie Swaby

"If there is a rise in gang violence we need to talk about that, kids need to be aware what's going on in their schools," says one West High School student.

The need to talk was met at Madison's School Board meeting on Monday when the police Chief and four high ranking officers pulled up a chair. Topics on the table included a rise in gang activity.

"The big thing that has drawn us to the gang issue is the graffiti" reports Detective George Chavez. "What's amazing to me is listening to the kids talk about how they are being recruited in the middle schools."

While local gang members are leaving their mark on walls as well as in the schools, police Chief Noble Wray is optimistic.

"I think the community is in a position this time around to respond better. In the late 80's, early 90's, I was here during that period and I think that we kind of got caught off guard," tells Chief Wray.

Another topic at the table - tasers.

"At first when the taser situation happened I was very upset," admits Madison School board member, Johnny Winston Jr. "I started to think okay, is this warranted? Did this need to happen?"

"People are skeptical, it was an African American that the taser was used on, a child," says school board treasurer, Juan Jose Lopez.

Chief Wray says, "during that taser incident one of the things that came out of that is that I realized along with Art Rainwater that we needed to talk a little bit more about our partnerships."

The partnerships between Educational Resource Officers and police liaisons with School Administrators and teachers.

"We've got to find a happy medium so we are able to work together instead of against each other," says Lopez.

At Memorial and East High Schools, the increase in gang activity has been more noticeable, and throughout area schools police report racial tensions as well. The school board and Madison police decided on Monday night to meet again, and take a closer look at policies and procedures.

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