By Amanda Amsel
New graffiti has popped up throughout Columbus, including in Prairie Township. These tags have been linked to a new gang that is made up of children.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office addressed this issue during their report to the township trustees earlier this month.
“I have seen at least a dozen separate tags, but I am sure there are more,” said Sgt. Charley Brown, community relations for the sheriff’s office. “We believe they are from a new hybrid gang made of up of middle and high school age kids that formed four to six weeks ago.”
This gang, according to Brown, is very small and established in certain areas. One of the dangers he also said, is that just like larger gangs they are trying to prove themselves.
When asked for the name of the new gang, the Sheriff’s office would not comment because they don’t want to give the group name recognition in the media.
A lot of times these smaller gangs break apart and the members transition into larger more established gangs, but sometimes they thrive.
“How any gang thrives is through selling drugs,” Brown said.
He said gangs can control 80 percent of drugs on the street in certain neighborhoods.
Columbus has a variety of gangs. There are an estimated 80 to 120 different gangs in Franklin County, Brown said.
“People have a misconception that just because this isn’t Los Angeles that we do not have gang issues, but we do,” Brown said. “We have gang related shootings and drugs being sold and some of these gangs are right here in Prairie Township.”
However, the sheriff’s office is not planning to let these gang members rule the streets. They are offering a variety of options to stop gangs from taking over local neighborhoods.
One of the things they are doing is a four-hour training that educates people on gang issues that plague Franklin County. People are trained in how to differentiate gang graffiti, what colors different gangs wear, what brands they like to wear, how the media influences them and how they market themselves to area youth.
“I have given over 50,000 presentations since 2005,” Brown said. “Some of the groups we have presented to include other police departments, school districts, prisons, foster care workers and parents.”
Officers also go to parent’s homes and talk one-on-one with kids who may be involved in gangs.
Brown said getting a child out of gang is complicated, but can be done.
“It depends on their mentality and if they are going to just stop or if they are trying to prove something,” he said. “Compared to traditional gangs, it is a little easier to get out, but it really depends on how far the child is willing to go.”
To request an Operation Street Smart for a New A.G.E. (Adult Gang Education) presentation, contact Sgt. Charley Brown at 525-6317 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.