Jackson Police Unit Speaks Out About Gang Activity
Just one day after investigators said gang-related fights broke out at North Side High School, the Jackson Police Department’s Gang Enforcement Unit is speaking out about gang violence. 7 Eyewitness News asked them if gang violence is increasing, especially among young people. Lt. Christopher Wiser, who is the commander of the gang enforcement team, told 7 Eyewitness News Jackson is not necessarily seeing an increase in younger gang members right now, but it could eventually. That is because more gangs are using social networking websites like YouTube and Facebook to basically advertise. “It’s a lot easier for them to get their message out and use that as a recruitment tool,” Lt. Wiser said. “We are seeing a slight increase in juvenile gang activity.” Lt. Wiser said the messages gangs send in videos can create problems in schools, like what apparently happened at North Side, where students said disrespectful lyrics about rival gangs, which only added to on-campus tension. “They’re exposed to so much more nowadays with the websites, the music, the videos, and that can have a negative influence on a young person,” Wiser said. And today’s gangs apparently do not dress the same way as they used to. Lt. Wiser said gangs are less likely to wear matching colors because they want to blend in with their surroundings, and hide better from law enforcement. “But when they get over to the jail, if they’re claiming GD [Gangster Disciples], they don’t want to go into a pod with a bunch of Vice Lords, so then they will admit over there that, ‘Hey, I’m a gang member’ because he doesn’t want to be housed with these other gang members,” he said. According to Wiser, the younger gang members are not as organized as the more traditional gangs, but are known for violent acts like vandalism, fights and intimidation. Though Wiser would not say which, he said some Jackson high schools take a more proactive role in cracking down on on-campus gang activity. He said his team would like to be a part of that crackdown, but first must be asked by the school’s principal. “If they ask us to come, we’ll come because we want to prevent any child from getting involved in a gang,” Wiser said. The advice seems simple, but Lt. Wiser said the first step to prevent gangs is that parents must communicate with their children, and know who their friends are.