City police team to ‘reclaim the streets’

Johnny Woodard Staff writer

September 12, 2013

LAURINBURG — The Laurinburg Police Department is “a week or two away” from establishing its first gang unit to “retake the streets,” Police Chief Darwin Williams said on Thursday.

“Right now we are putting together our strategy,” Williams said. “We’ve got to do our homework first and based on analytics, we will decide how to proceed.”

Three of the four officers needed for the gang unit have already been assigned, and Williams said that he “hopes to have another person” soon.

News of the gang unit’s creation was met with praise from members of city council at Tuesday’s regular agenda workshop meeting.

Laurinburg Councilwoman Mary Jo Adams called the unit a “great idea.”

“This is something we need,” Adams said.

According to Williams the gang unit will be subject to special training, both in and outside the city limits. In its infancy, Williams said the gang unit will be especially reliant on information provided by locals.

“We are going to go out to them and ask them what they know,” Williams said. “That’s part of doing our homework to determine what we’re dealing with.”

Once the gang unit is fully established, it will continue to rely on tips from locals.

“I think the community is very aware of the gang activity that is going on, and that they see it as an issue. So we are going to expect them to approach us whenever there is an issue,” he said.

Williams kept mum on details.

“We have several ways of attempting to address the gang situation … and that includes (outreach) and trying to make sure they never join gangs to begin with,” Williams said. “The gang unit will also work closely with drug enforcement, but I don’t want to get too much into that.”

Williams said while prosecuting those involved in gang activity “will also be a big part of what we do,” the gang unit will be part of a larger vision, the “effort to restore the image of Laurinburg.”