Symposium encourages police awareness of local gang activity

By on March 18th, 2013

Alex de Armas reported for WUFT-TV.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office has partnered with the Florida Gang Investigators Association and other state agencies to conduct a symposium about gang activity in the Gainesville/Alachua County area.

The purpose of the symposium, said Deputy Greg Guzman, is to train officers in identifying, documenting and dealing with gang members.

“The purpose of documenting them into a statewide system or a national system means that they don’t get to start over when they go to the next community over from ours,” Guzman said.

According to the sheriff’s office, there are at least a dozen gangs in Alachua County.

“We have a gang problem in the U.S.; it’s part of our culture,” said Norm Miller, training director for the Florida Gang Investigators Association. “We need to address it like we would address any other problem.”

Trainees at the symposium learned the colors and hand signs as well as the graffiti marks associated with each gang so they can keep an eye out for members even during routine traffic stops.

The area known as the “Mike Zone,” located off 20th Avenue and SW 61st Street, is a hotbed of gang activity, including graffiti that marks the gang territory.

The Alachua County Sheriff’s Office said between 18 of 23 percent of calls related to gang activity come from this area.

Parents worried that their children will get involved with gang activity should pay attention to changes in characteristics, Guzman said.

“Some children are very overt with it: they don’t want clothes unless they’re all red or all black or they’ve got neatly folded bandanas,” he said.

Adolescents who are involved with gangs may also be forced to complete initiation tasks such as harming a rival gang member or committing a robbery.

“They will feel the need to validate themselves and prove themselves like the big guys do,” Guzman said.

The best way for people to protect themselves from gang-related crimes, Miller said, is awareness.

“Be cautious of your surroundings and individuals. It’s not a safe world out there anymore. There are people who want to do us harm,” he said.

Michelle Plitnikas wrote this story online. 

This entry was posted in Florida and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

More Stories in Florida

Sofia DeCerce, 21, a senior studying health education and behavior, and Lindsay Pearl, 19, a sophomore studying health science discuss programs GatorWell offers with Ronit Dastidar, 19, a microbiology sophomore. "People are going to keep doing what they're doing, but it's important to make sure that they're informed to the correct way to do those activities," Dastidar said.

Florida Ranked 47th In Sexual Health, Could Be Due To Educational Lack

Florida ranked 47th in the United States for sexual health by the State by State Safer Sex Index. Melissa St. Onge, communications manager for Planned Parenthood of South, East and North Florida, said she was not surprised to hear Florida ranked so low on the survey, and that sexual health conversations should start at home and continue with education in class.


Judge Refuses to Stop Florida Black Bear Hunt

A Leon County judged ruled that Florida’s first black bear hunt in 21 years will indeed happen. The ruling says that a state wildlife agency was within its right to schedule the hunt.

The existing seal of the  Florida state senate. A committee is reviewing whether the Confederate flag should be removed.

Florida’s Senators Consider Removing Confederate Flag From State Senate Seal

The Senate Rules Committee will meet Oct. 8 to begin re-examining the current emblem of the chamber. Under Senate rules, the seal includes “a fan of the five flags which have flown over Florida” — those of the United States, Confederate States of America, France, Great Britain and Spain.

Spike in Newberry Water Bills Stirs Concern in Residents

According to the “Citizens of Newberry Forum” on Facebook, water bills are all the rage as residents are unhappy with their unusually high bills. Serving about 1,675 customers, Newberry City Manager Mike New says it is nothing out of the ordinary compared to previous years.

Campus Gun Bills Advance In House And Senate

THE CAPITAL, TALLAHASSEE, September 16, 2015………. A proposal that would allow people with concealed-weapons licenses to pack heat while hitting the books on college and university campuses notched it first two successes Wednesday. The legislation (SB 68 and HB 4001), […]

Thank you for your support

WUFT depends on the support of our community — people like you — to help us continue to provide quality programming to North Central Florida.
Become a Sustainer
I want to support FM 89.1/NPR
I want to support Florida's 5/PBS
Donate a Vehicle
Underwriting Payments