MPD and Citizens Team Up to Fight Gangs

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Gang activity continues to threaten this area, and Sunday's murder might be an example of that. Det. Dareall Thompson says police have asked the individuals who were allegedly involved with the robbery and murder of the 87-year-old man if they're involved in any local gangs.

"Are they affiliated with any type of gangs? A lot of times, you'll have some people come forward come forward and say yes or some people say no. We have to go based on what they tell us," Det. Thompson says.

Police are not yet saying for certain whether that is the case here. But Mayor Percy Bland says it's possible. That's why the mayor and MPD formed a gang task force to combat the problem, but investigators say they need citizen help.

Community members serve as the eyes and ears for police officers, who simply can't be everywhere at once. A prime example of that is the Freedom to Speak Facebook group, who recently held a protest right here in this parking lot.

"We've opened a direct liaison with the police department in order to funnel information from our large group, Freedom to Speak, directly to the chief down there," founder Jim Brashier explains.

It's a way to help those with information who may not feel comfortable talking directly to police.

"A lot of the members of freedom to speak and the local community have started to come forward with tips. Unintentionally, we have started receiving these tips. And so, as a result, we started forwarding them to the meridian police department," administrator Sarah Mosby says.

As more people are coming to the group with tips, they are continuing to share those with the police department.