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Gastonia sees increase in girl gangs
11/6/2005 1:06 PM
By: Kate Barker, News 14 Carolina
Gastonia's street crime unit says the number of girls joining gangs is on the rise.
GASTONIA, N.C. – The Gastonia Police Department’s street crime unit is dedicated to keeping gangs off the streets. Currently, detectives believe there are 12 gangs within the city limits.
The unit is unique because it spends several hours each week working with local schools and attending community events. On Saturday, its detectives attended Gastonia Family Fun Day. They say educating parents is a key to keeping kids out of gangs.
Gastonia's street crime unit is dedicated to keeping gangs off the streets.
“If you do not have family support at home, you are going to seek it somewhere,” said Detective Mike McKenzie.
The street crime unit has been around since 1998, but detectives say things have certainly changed. They are now seeing increase in the number of girls joining gangs.
"It is a reality; we do have a couple of girl gangs,” McKenzie said.
Detectives say it does not appear that girl gangs deal as many drugs as the all-male gangs, but they say girls use intimidation and can be violent. Teenagers living in Gastonia agree.
Fifteen-year-old Brittany Hoke says there are several gangs in Gastonia.
“They fight over their boys,” said 15-year-old Brittany Hoke. “That is what they do.”
While detectives agree that both girl and boy gangs are a real problem in Gastonia, they say it is not out of control. And with their type of community policing, they hope it stays that way.
The Gastonia street crime unit has 10 members. It has been such a success that police departments across the county have contacted officers looking for advice on starting their own street crime unit.