Officials Focus on Las Vegas Gang Violence

CBS8 –

LAS VEGAS — The murder of Officer Trevor Nettleton is shedding light on the dangers of gangs. Experts say the gang culture is found in every Las Vegas high school — even elementary schools. That’s why law enforcement hopes parents will be on alert for the signs and symbols of gangs.

This week those three young men accused of kil#i*gg Nettleton were on the streets as gang members. Now they’re in jail and their alleged lifestyle is still taking lives.

Just feet from where Nettleton was shot dead, a memorial grows. It’s a tribute to his life of service for his country and his community — a life cut short, authorities say, at the hands of gangbangers.

“Whenever I lose one of my law enforcement brothers, it strikes me with a lot of anger inside and it’s just a tragedy that now that brother is gone,” said Clark County Department of Juvenile Services gang specialist Jerry Simon. “Just when we thought we were starting to make good progress with the kids not having guns out here in the community and something like this happens. It just makes you almost feel like giving up. It hurts tremendously.”

But Simon keeps on educating parents. His work is not just a guide to gangs, he says it’s a wake-up call. Symbols and gestures give parents clues their sons or daughters may be members of a ki*ler clique.

Police say Officer Nettleton’s murderers, 18-year-old Prentice Marshall, 20-year-old Saul Williams, Jr. and an unnamed 17-year-old male all have gang ties.

The Southern Nevada Community Gang Task Force estimates 11,000 people in the area are connected to gangs, including 5,000 minors. Officials have verified 500 different gangs around Las Vegas.

This latest episode of violence has shattered lives and Simon has a message for parents: “You must take action quickly. The good news is they can be saved,” he said.

By addressing gang issues early, he hopes parents can steer kids away from the dangers before they become hardened gang members. That’s why he’s urging parents to attend the next seminar on gang prevention. It’s at 6 p.m. on Thursday, December 3, 2009 at the Pearson

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