They go by names like Rolling 20 Crips, Hilltop Soldier Bloods, Hilltop Posse (HTP) and Tiny Rascal Gangsters (TRG), and can be found all over the Hilltop.
In an effort to raise awareness and curtail crime in the Hilltop, community leaders and residents came together on Jan. 12 to discuss the ongoing problem of gangs and their activity on the city’s Westside.
The Greater Hilltop Area Commission collaborated with the Columbus Division of Police’s Criminal Information Unit to present to residents information about active gangs, how to spot members and who to contact.
“The Westside has every type of gang,” explained Detective Timothy Huston of the Criminal Information Unit.
“In this city, we deal with black gangs, white gangs, Asian gangs and Hispanic gangs,” added Detective Thaddeus Alexander of the Midwest Gang Investigators Association and 30 year veteran of the Columbus police.
According to Alexander, gangs originate from all over the United States and are most easily identified by the colors they wear. The colors are often displayed through bandannas worn a number of ways, including draped over the shoulder or hanging from a pocket, he continued.
How do you spot a gang member?
•Bloods: wear red on their left side.
•Crips: wear navy blue on their right.
•Folks: wear black and white on their right side.
•People’s Nations (including Vice Lords): wear green on their left side.
•Latin Kings: wear gold and black or yellow and black on the left side (also identified by ornate tattooing).
•MS-13 (Mara Salvatrucha): wear royal blue.
•TRG: wear grey.
Other indicators of gang presence include gang t-shirts, which often display memorial photos of deceased members and again, display the gang colors, said Alexander.
Alexander reminded residents that not all gang members fit these profiles.
“They come up with different ways to get by us a lot of times,” he said. “Gangs don’t always wear what you might see on ‘Gangland’,” he went on.
Not everyone who fits these descriptions are gang members, but it’s better to report all suspicious activity, he said.
What do gangs do?
MS-13 is “considered to be one of the more dangerous organizations,” said Alexander.
“TRG is probably the fastest growing gang we have right now on the Hilltop,” said Huston. “The major school that they recruit in is Briggs High school,” he continued.
Most of the gangs participate in narcotics trafficking, said Huston. Other activity includes burglary, violence and vandalism, he said.
Melissa Malone, a 22 year resident of the area, said she felt graffiti and burglaries were the predominant gang activity in her neighborhood, near South Ogden.
Who should you call?
Alexander encouraged residents to report any signs of gang activity to their community liaison officer. He also suggested documenting the activity observed.
Residents who may be apprehensive about reporting information to local authorities for fear of it becoming public record are encouraged to contact Central Ohio Crime Stoppers.
Under Ohio law, any crime reported to authorities is public record, explained President Kevin Miles.
Crime Stoppers protects the informants’ identity, creating a safe and effective way for the informant to provide tips, he explained.
To report tips to Central Ohio Crime Stoppers, call (614) 461-8477 or visit their Web site, www.stopcrime.org.
If you are interested in starting a block watch or finding one in your neighborhood, you should contact your liaison officer, explained Justin Boggs, public safety chairman for the Greater Hilltop Area Commission.
Most of the Hilltop is in the 19th Precinct, said Boggs, and is served by Community Liaison Officer Ken Ramos. He can be contacted at (614) 645-1419.