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Georgia officials focus on curtailing gang-related crime

State law enforcement and elected officials are serious about gang violence.

On July 25, 2019, Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and state law enforcement held a summit in Lake Lanier to focus on the statewide problem of gang violence. Georgians will recall this was one of the governor's campaign pledges.

According to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, many in attendance see gang-related criminal activity as Georgia's "top threat to public safety" in both urban and rural areas.

The conference's attendees set goals for getting serious about curtailing gang activity:

  • Improvement in the statewide gang-member tracking database
  • Specific prosecutor training called "anti-cartel" courses about charging gang members with crimes
  • Focus on the most violent gang members
  • Raise public awareness of the threats posed by gangs
  • Tougher penalties for violent crimes

Federal prosecutors in the state are also more aggressively focusing on gang activity, which is reportedly widespread and may include drive-by shootings and other homicides as well as drug crimes.

Summit attendees discussed the problem of exposure to gang culture within prisons and the need for "new initiatives to separate known gang members in prisons from other inmates."

A few weeks before the summit, the Georgia Gang Investigators Association held its well-attended summer conference in Savannah. According to Fox 28 Media, GGIA's president said that there are at least 71,000 known members in the state in contrast to 58,000 Georgia police officers.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation has a recently created gang task force to support communities and courts.

What about overreach?

The numbers do not lie and the problem is extremely serious. Government officials, prosecutors and law enforcement, both federal and state, have their hands full in facing this public danger. But in the rush to stop gang-related violent crime, people will undoubtedly get swept up in investigations and incidents who should not have been arrested or charged.

It is extremely important for anyone in this situation to talk to a lawyer as soon as possible to begin to build a strong defense and to launch an investigation on the defendant's behalf. The federal or state charges related to gang activity are serious and can bring penalties of prison time, fines and more for convictions. Such charges may include:

  • Firearms violations
  • Assault
  • Drug crimes
  • Homicide
  • Theft and robbery
  • Juvenile offenses
  • And more

The criminal defense attorneys at the Marietta office of David West & Associates represent those accused of crimes across the state of Georgia as well as people facing federal charges nationwide.