Compared with other regions in the state Northwest Florida’s gang problem may seem like a small matter. To the people that live there, however, it is a growing problem.
According to the Okaloosa Sherriff’s Department, there are 4 known gangs in the area. On the evening of July 1st a fight broke out between two of those gangs, the Crosstown and the Lintown Boys. The fight happened because a Lintown Boy had moved onto Crosstown turf.
That fight ended when gunfire erupted from a balcony, injuring a girl.
Officials mention that at this time, crime is low in relation to the gangs, but recognize that it might change if the problem isn’t handled soon. At the current time, officials state, drug possession, loitering, and graffiti are the main incidences.
This report from Nwfdailynews.com reveals the majority of gang members in the area are teens. They state the growth may be due in part to recruiting, prison releases, and current members relocating to the area.
They caution the community to be aware of who their children are hanging out with and to report gang activity. Ignoring the problem will only exacerbate it.
A new Florida law passed last year is designed to make it easier for the police to classify a gang member. Now, someone must meet only two criteria from a list to be labeled as a gang member. That list includes things like gang tattoos, associating with known gang members, and even the word of a family member or friend.
Not all drug crimes in the area are a result of gangs, however. If you are caught up in the system and facing drug charges, you probably know exactly what I mean. Facing charges like possession of marijuana or even possession with intent to distribute can happen to people from all walks of life.