Sheriff Jenkins: Gang Violence Alive In Jasper County Schools - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Sheriff Jenkins: Gang Violence Alive In Jasper County Schools

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Jasper County, S.C. -

The meeting that sent shockwaves through its audience of parents, revealed four known gangs throughout Jasper County Schools.

The violence spans from bullying, to a fight in weeks past that sent one teen to the emergency room, left officers injured, and charged nine teens involved.

Now Sheriff Greg Jenkins says his investigation into that fight discovered heavy gang activity.

"For so long, we've been calling our young people 'wanna-be.' We were calling gangs 'wanna-be,' and to do that for all these years...now we've seen something that's grown, and we have to literally play catch-up," Sheriff Jenkins says. 

The town hall meeting at the Ridgeland High auditorium was called to address school safety. Parents in the audience didn't expect to be alerted of such severe news.

"I am shocked. We're not ready for this," Sergio Nuno says. "They don't know how to handle it, so it's a learning situation for everyone."

Parents are trying to learn what they can to do guard against gangs.

"We're giving the parents some training in what to look for, how to identify it, paying attention to the signs and the symbols in some of the clothing, even watching Facebook and that media," Sheriff Jenkins says.   

Although the students wear uniforms, it's the jackets and sweatshirts the school district says to beware of. Sheriff Jenkins cited symbols as simple as the M&M icon, and even the Spongebob cartoon character.

Parents asked what's being done about such violence. The Sheriff said his office is still investigating, and that's why he refuses to name which gangs are around.

He says his resource officers are trained to detect gang activity. 

"These officers just got back from gang training so that's going to be an added addition," he says.

In addition to that, he instructs parents to monitor their kids and to be on the look-out.

For Nuno, that means asking his kids some questions, too.

"How did it go? What'd you guys learn? Any problems, any issues? That's how we keep it going and that's the best way to do it," Nuno says.

Sheriff Jenkins says he and the Jasper County School District will host more meetings in the future to make parents aware of the investigation, and how to keep kids safe.

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