ATLANTA, Ga. (WJBF) – Georgia’s Attorney General Office says nearly half of all violent crimes in America are gang related.
In Georgia, the number of gang recruits continues to increase with 71-thousand gang affiliates and more than 1500 suspected gang networks.
One of Georgia Governor Brian Kemp’s priorities is to fund public safety and reduce gang activity.
“It’s been happening for a long time. We have over 70,000 gang members in our state. We have the Mexican drug cartel that’s controlling drug trafficking through big parts of our country including Georgia and we need to do something about it,” said Governor Kemp.
Georgia representative Jesse Petrea of Savannah agrees with the governor.
“We have got 1500 gangs, 70,000 gang members and they are responsible for most of your violent crimes,” said Rep. Petrea.
That’s why Governor Kemp wants to allocate $2-million to create 7 new GBI positions to tackle gangs.
Petrea says this will help in the fight.
“To address the issue of jurisdiction to allow the GBI to take the lead even in local areas,” explained Rep. Petrea
“Georgia is the hub of the Mexican drug cartel – it doesn’t matter what part of the state you are in, they are operating in it,” said Governor Kemp.
“This is a huge issue – whether it’s drugs, sex crimes, violent crimes, human trafficking – all of these are issues by organized gangs,” said Rep. Petrea.
State lawmakers passed one of the toughest gang bills back five years back.
“Back in 2015, in the country, and Georgia has one of the strongest bills in the country and we want to do it better,” explained Rep. Petrea, “Major societal issues like fatherlessness and poverty — the number one cause of poverty — is fatherlness. Those issues make it more likely that individuals will find themselves in gang activity.”
Governor Kemp wants to create a state wide database to help agencies work together to catch gangs.
“The other thing we have to do is to hone in our schools through campus officers and capturing our young people,” said Petrea, “The community has to do this job, our churches, schools, community groups, neighborhoods. We have to catch these kids before they get involved in gang activity.”
The Attorney General’s Office says criminals are now using social media to recruit to target younger audiences.
The Georgia Gang Investigators Association says nearly all but two Georgia counties reported a rise in gang activity and 155 school districts reported suspected gang activity, and that gang activity has slowly gone up year-by-year since 2005.