The Garden City Telegram
6/15/2013
OPINIONS AND COMMENTARY

Gang war

Operation Frontline helps make a statement on crime.

When it comes to fighting crime, local law enforcement officers want to send a message.

And they believe they've done as much in a recent bevy of allegations leveled against numerous people suspected in gang-related crimes.

Operation Frontline, a 21-month investigation into gang activity in Garden City and Finney County, saw 28 suspects either arrested or already in custody, with two more being sought.

Allegations against the accused run the gamut, from robbery and burglary to assault, drug possession and sales, and criminal damage to property. Accusations of gang recruitment and incitement to riot also were in the mix.

While the individuals arrested are presumed innocent until proven guilty, the allegations alone offer a good look at the kind of mayhem gangs create in communities.

The local war on gang activity became a high priority more than a decade ago. Since then, Garden City and Finney County have been steadfast in efforts to curb such criminal acts.

Full-time law enforcement gang units and gang-prevention instruction in local schools have been among needed ventures.

Garden City and Finney County reportedly have committed more resources to the anti-gang effort than other area cities. As a result, local police report it's not unusual to hear of gang participants feeling the heat here and deciding to move on.

Along with cracking down on criminal acts, ongoing efforts in Garden City and Finney County also revolve around ways to better understand gang involvement, and particularly the reasons youth are drawn to gangs.

As gangs try to enlist as many school-age members as possible, law enforcement officers need help from others in the community.

Parents, educators and other stakeholders also need to arm themselves with as many strategies as possible to reach youngsters in hopes of discouraging interest in gang activity that not only damages communities, but also destroys young lives.

Meanwhile, tracking down gang members and holding them accountable is one good way to send a message to others who'd continue on that path — and also to the many youngsters at risk of falling prey to the same dangerous way of life.