MCLENNAN COUNTY (September 22, 2013) -- For the past few months, Waco police, and the McLennan County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s offices, have been tracking an uptick in neighborhood gang activity.
Sgt. Patrick Swanton of Waco Police says his department is seeing a rise in assaults, property crimes, and drug dealings from reported gang members in the area.
Swanton didn’t share specifics or criminal stats but identified it as a unique problem.
“Look, both criminal and gang activity is in Waco,” Swanton said. “We identify national gangs here all the time like Crips, Bloods, the Aryan Brotherhood, etc.,” he said.
“But what we’re really picking up on is more local street gangs that identify themselves with an area neighborhood.”
Waco Police, The McLennan County Sheriff’s and District Attorney’s office, as well as other area law enforcement have been meeting for the past few months to discuss deterrents to the growing problem.
Swanton says gang information is primarily shared.
“What they're wearing, what tattoos, what signs they’re using, what things may show they're in gang activity," Swanton said.
“With area law enforcement sharing information, there aren’t any delays whatsoever."
According to Swanton, the meetings have been more than productive. The McLennan County Sheriff’s Office has even requested the approval of hiring a gang intelligence officer from county commissioners.
The officer would be implanted into the McLennan County Jail on Hwy 6. There he would collect and share valuable information regarding any gangs to various police agencies.
The request was recently approved by county commissioners and the officer will begin work inside the jail soon.
Furthermore, the issue is something Waco Police wants the public to be aware of. Swanton urges the public to call police if they see something.
“This is something we’re not totally unfamiliar with. We’ve seen it before, but it changes periodically,” Swanton said.
“It’s imperative to stay on top of it.”