CLEVELAND -- Gangs violence is a growing problem in Cleveland. WKYC Channel 3 hears complaints that residents are not seeing police patrolling areas where gangs are a problem.
We spent time with the Cleveland Police Gang Unit to see their efforts to get the most violent individuals off the streets.
In order to solve a problem, you have to understand it. We've complied some details on the make up of Cleveland's gangs and the Cleveland Gang Unit:
- For 90 days over the summer of 2014, a third squad was added to the Cleveland Police Gang Unit, bringing the number of officers up to 27.
- The gang unit works undercover. They do not drive around in marked patrol cars, making their presence less visible.
- The gang unit is focusing on violence involving guns.
- Last year, the gang unit confiscated 91 guns.
This year, the gang unit had already exceeded that number by July.
- Gangs in Cleveland are neighborhood gangs, geographically based.
- Gangs have anywhere from a handful of members to a couple dozen.
- Neighborhood gangs do not wear specific colors, like nationally affiliated gangs, such as the Bloods or the Crips, which makes them harder to identify.
- Graffiti signals gang activities and is used to mark territory and send messages. When gangs go into another gang's area and leave graffiti, it is a sign of disrespect.
- About 55 gangs are currently active in Cleveland, with about a half-dozen responsible for a majority of the crime and violence.
- The largest gangs are not always the most violent.
- The gang unit is heavily focused on investigations targeting the most violent individuals.
- The gang scene in Cleveland is constantly changing. The number of active gangs changes as do members. Sometimes gangs merge, another factor in making tracking gangs challenging.
- Gangs are active in neighborhoods across Cleveland, from east to west.
- The CPD gang unit works with other agencies, including other local police and sheriff's departments, and state and federal agencies, including the FBI, U.S. Marshals and more.
- Downtown Cleveland is not a hub for gang activity.
Most gang issues in Downtown Cleveland are caused by rival gang member running into each other at bus transfer areas around Public Square.
The gang unit refers at-risk individuals to agencies like the Cleveland Peacemakers Alliance.
Recent WKYC stories related to Cleveland's gang violence issues:
JULY 22, 2014:Cleveland councilman urges 'Stop and Frisk' tactics
JULY 22, 2014:Police 'gang unit' involved in overnight shooting
JULY 21, 2014: Former Cleveland gang member speaks out on violence
JULY 15, 2014: Cleveland Mayor proposes new gun legislation
JULY 1, 2014: Leader of 'Heartless Felons' indicted for intimidation
JUNE 30, 2014:Four-year-old shot leaves a neighborhood asking for help
Follow WKYC's Kris Pickel on Twitter: @KrisPickelNews