WICHITA FALLS, TX (RNN Texoma) - The latest Texas DPS report showed gang activity in Wichita Falls is low compared to larger cities across the lone star state.
Wichita Falls Police and Wichita County Sheriff’s Office credit the gang injunctions for disrupting criminal gangs.
The city’s and county’s district attorney’s office combined efforts to file its first gang injunction on August 2006 after a rise in gang violence the prior summer, which included 56 shootings between rival gangs. Since, the gang injunctions went into effect the city reports seeing a 40 percent decrease in gang activity.
The gang injunctions are civil court orders which result in arrest able misdemeanors if violated.
There is an injunction for each gang in the city and enforced in five locations law enforcement identified as gang zones. They can range from not allowing known gang members to wear their gang-affiliated clothing, possessing alcohol at any time or associating with other gang members.
“It allows them to make arrests for offences that normally would not be arrest able,” WFPD Sgt. Harold McClure said. “They drastically decreased a gang ability to function in the city, That’s the whole intent of the gang injunction. It’s not meant to disrupt someone’s life but it is intended to disrupt the business of organized crime.”
“[Our] deputy’s will run across people who violate the gang injunctions they’ll be with convicted felons or gang members and it’s another charge that goes against them," Sheriff David Duke said.
WFPD Gang Task Force officers and Sheriff’s deputies add extra patrols in gang identified zones.
“[We do it] to help keep some of the crime down, the shootings, the drive-byes things like that," Sheriff Duke said. "The presence of being seen slows some of the crime down for them.”
Law enforcement officers said they use other tactics to keep neighborhoods safe from gang violence such as gathering information on gangs and its members.
“We have an intelligence officer that maintains and keeps up with who’s who and we pass that information through the intelligence," Sheriff Duke said.
The Texas DPS report also states the majority of crimes which gangs were arrested for in Wichita County were violent and property crimes.