Nip it in the bud

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 13, 2005

I remembered an old adage last week as I listened to Sheriff Ed Webb discuss gang activity in Gates County. He made it clear that he intends to &uot;nip it in the bud&uot; before it escalates into a serious problem,

The sheriff should get definite &uot;thumbs up&uot; for his proactive stance on this matter. He recognizes the negative aspects of gangs starting up in the county and he’s stepped up to the plate to take positive action.

Sheriff Webb first warned local citizens of encroaching gang activity in the county several months ago. He presented information to the Board of Commissioners and local citizens who had crowded into the meeting. He also noted that his office could use more deputies to help enforce the law.

Now, the sheriff’s information has proven itself true. Gang graffiti depicting the symbol of the &uot;Folk Nation,&uot; an offshoot of the infamous &uot;Crips and Bloods,&uot; was found at Gates County High School.

The graffiti was confiscated and turned over to the sheriff and according to him, he’s fortunate to have recovered it since the school is without a School Resource Officer (SRO).

Webb said it is the SRO who generally finds contraband or items like the graffiti or illegal substances. He said his office is greatly handicapped without the SRO because students will often speak confidentially with them, or even turn items over to them.

Lack of funding this year for an SRO at the high school is placing an extra burden on the sheriff’s office, but also on the people of Gates County.

Take the presence of the graffiti, for instance. Consider that if the gangs are moving into the county as the sheriff warned all those months ago, then we can also believe that he’s right about violence and crimes; sooner or later, they will follow.

Sheriff Webb said the influx of gang &uot;wanna’ be’s,&uot; those who have actually dabbled in gang activity and real gang members is generally what’s bringing the problem here. He also made a good point when he said that while the population is growing and society is changing in the county, he has fewer deputies to help enforce the laws.

In Webb’s proactive actions, he’s looking for funding in the form of grant money and he’s applied himself to researching to find available funds.

No one got excited when the sheriff brought up the subject months ago, but you can just about count on some excitement when these organized gangs of youth begin committing crimes against us. According to frightening statistics, gang youth target senior citizens in particular. They also break into homes to grab whatever they can carry to sell for drug money.

I don’t know about the rest of the population in the county, but I believe Sheriff Webb when he says gangs are moving in. I hope that somehow he can find the greatly needed funding for an increased staff and I pray that he can successfully nip this problem in the bud before I have to start reporting on gang criminal activity against our citizens.