“I don’t want to be an alarmist, but (gang activity) is happening here,” Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said.
Rawlings told members of the Davis County Council of Governments that in the past three months law enforcement has identified 23 separate gangs operating in Davis County and 71 known gang members, “and that’s just in three months,” Rawlings said.
“We know their names. We know their nicknames. We know their gang affiliation,” Rawlings told the Clipper after the COG meeting. “We’re seeing white supremacist, biker-type gangs, in the county,” Rawlings said, in addition to the more stereotypical gangs.
Rawlings said that while the graffiti and pranks such as knocking over mailboxes are still part of gang activity, law enforcement in Davis County is seeing, “much more troubled kids, hardened kids who are committing more serious crimes, such as drug running, weapons running, assaults, stabbing and shootings. And we’re seeing this even among the juveniles,” he said.
On Friday, he told the Clipper the same thing he told COG members. “I’m not going to be Chicken Little and say the sky is falling, but I’m Rooster Little and I’m crowing about preventing (gang activity). Let’s get moving against them and relocate them to the state prison.”
Rawlings met with COG members last summer to talk about the gang problem and promised an update. COG is made up of the city’s mayors, county commissioners, and school district and business representatives.
Since that summer meeting, law enforcement agencies in the county operating as a limited task force, have met three times to share information. Ogden City has also been involved to share data on gang members who may be migrating into Davis County and has placed information on known Davis County gang activity in its gang bulletin. Rawlings said agencies in South Davis will also be working with those in Salt Lake County to help compile a database.
Rawlings said that some time ago there was a Davis County gang task force which was disbanded because it was not a productive use of resources.
To combat the current growing problem, the county attorney’s office will hire an investigator, who should be in place by spring. The office is looking for someone with experience in dealing with gangs. “This isn’t about our office, but (the investigator) will correlate the database and help with gang-related investigations,” being conducted by the county’s law enforcement agencies.
Rawlings’ office already has one investigator on board, who is working with Immigration Custom Enforcement (ICE) officers and Adult Probation and Parole.
Rawlings said there are also plans to work with the Davis School District in putting a program together to keep students from wanting to join gangs.