MERIDIAN, Miss. (WTOK) - Gang activity continues to be a problem across the country and right here at home. Newscenter 11 spoke with Meridian's police chief to find out how our officers are training to handle the new way gangs are operating in this area.
Gangs are not a new problem. Their goals are the same, but the way they operate keeps evolving, bringing new threats.
"Human trafficking, counterfeiting, even some of the gangs are joining forces, and the motivation behind it all is money," Dubose says
The meridian police department's gang task force went to a conference earlier this month put on by the Mississippi association of gang investigators. Officers talked about the latest trends in gang activity and what officers need to look for on the streets.
"They’re targeting young individuals who have very little parental guidance, who come from low-income families," Dubose says.
Chief Benny Dubose says they're recruiting kids as young as 10 years old, which is why parents need to stay involved and keep a close eye on Facebook.
"They do a lot of social media bragging and recruiting and so forth," Dubose explains
Gangs aren't just hiding out on street corners anymore. They're showing off.
"Some cities in Mississippi have gangs that are producing music videos to promote their gang. They're pretty savvy right now," Dubose explains. "There’s no threat to them as far as being arrested if they do advertise their activities."
Right now, it's not illegal to be part of a gang. The chief is hoping our lawmakers could change that.
"We’re going to go down in mass trying to get support from our legislators to pass this particular bill," Dubose says.
New legislation aims to bring steeper penalties for gang-related crimes and charges to anyone who is a gang member.
There are five officers that make up meridian's gang task force. They work each day to put a stop to gang-related crime in the Queen City.