When you think of gangs, many people think it's a city problem. But the issue is now a priority in the rural counties, including Louisa.
School administrators in Louisa are openly discussing the issue of gangs in the schools. The rural setting hardly makes it seem like a breeding ground for violent street gangs and its members. But federal leaders say it is here and we must pay attention.
They believe that's going to start with watching children in the classroom.
"I think they see us as a potential ally and partner to observe and report," said Greg Dorazio, the spokesperson for Louisa County Public schools.
For the first time, Louisa school leaders held a meeting to learn about gangs in the area and tips to identify potential gang affiliation.
"It's important to note we're not asking our teachers to confront or break up gangs, or anything along those lines, we're just trying to give staff members a knowledge base from which they can better observe and report to law enforcement to assist in that effort," says Dorazio.
According to research by the National Gang Center, having family or friends already in a gang or the need to feel protected are the biggest reasons to join. The most recent example of a gang's terror: members of the 99 Goon Syndikate, a branch of the Bloods, were recently indicted in federal court for racketeering charges. The Louisa tie: some of those alleged gang members are accused of a violent home robbery and shooting in the county. Four, including three siblings, have been charged with the kidnapping and murder of Waynesboro Police Captain Kevin Quick.
"No one agency can address this problem alone, it is a collaborative approach," says Louisa Commonwealth's Attorney Rusty McGuire.
Right now, involving the Louisa community in the fight against gangs is still in the early stages. But with the conversation starting now-- school leaders say it could prevent future violence.
Another meeting will be held with the high school and middle school teachers at the start of the year to talk about gangs in the community.
Thursday, August 28 2014 4:16 PM EDT2014-08-28 20:16:44 GMT
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