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Sheriff issues warning to street gangs

By BECKY CRISSMAN
becky.crissman@cordeledispatch.com

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The photo shows a gang symbol painted on a building at Holsey-Cobb Village.

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A gang symbol painted on the sign for Holsey-Cobb Village.

8-29 Gang story

Sheriff Billy Hancock of the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office.

CORDELE — With the first ever gang murder trial taking place last week and recent gang-involved shooting Sheriff Billy Hancock has issued a warning to gangs, “You can bet your bottom dollar if you’re in a gang, I’m coming.”
Hancock clarified that statement to mean the Crisp County Sheriff’s Office and other agencies will be cracking down on any and all activity involving street gangs.
“It is my obligation and mandate to do everything in my power to bring safety and a decent way of life to the people of this community,” he said. “It is my responsibility as chief law enforcement officer to do so. We already have two federal agencies that have agreed to assist us. It is my desire, my goal to limit gang activity within Crisp County.”
Hancock said he loves the community and the people he is sworn to serve and protect. It is a job he does not take lightly. He says that title aside, it really concerns him that the youth of the community think that in order to be popular, recognized, or noticed they need to join a street gang.
“What that leads to is stealing, burglary, armed robbery and other violent crimes,” he said. “There are so many other positive activities they could devote their time to.”
Hancock says that for young people the main motivations for joining a gang are for identity or recognition, protection, fellowship/brotherhood, and intimidation. Gangs offer power/status, pride (second family), prestige (rank), adventure, self-preservation, the lure of money and limited life options.
Hancock says that what he learned during the Chavers trial prompted him to be alert for the safety of not only the community, but for the gang members themselves as well.
“We can’t fight violence with violence,” he said. “We need to eduate parents and teachers on what to look for if you suspect your child or a student is involved with gang activity.”
Hancock said there are currently “The Mobs,” “The Rolling 20’s,” “The Crips,” and “The Blood” in Crisp County. Each gang has an identifiable name, color or symbol.
“As a community we can handle this through education, community involvement, enforcement, and Church,” he said.
See Accent Page 9A for more on the gang situation.