10 officers, sergeant transferred to Gang Unit as a result of rising gang violence

More police officers transferred to...

EL PASO, Texas - El Paso Police say they continue to see a significant spike in the number of gang related cases in the Borderland and they need the help of the public to turn that trend around.

The numbers are a bit alarming and EPPD agrees. Midway through 2017, the recently expanded gang unit is handling 150 more cases than it did at this point last year.

"It concerns me because I have kids growing up," said Central El Pasoan Sylvester Garnett. "I try to teach my kids positive, but it's hard to teach positive when you're growing up around a lot of negative."

Gang related aggravated assaults are up 41 percent in the first six months of 2017, compared to the first six months of 2016. Graffiti has increased 33 percent and deadly conduct has gone up 26 percent. Meanwhile, gang related criminal mischief crimes have jumped 59 percent, all resulting in gang unit cases increasing 46 percent and gang related arrests 24 percent over the first six months of last year.

"It wasn't that bad when I was growing up," said Northeast El Pasoan Martin Gandara.

ABC-7 noticed a lot more graffiti, all across town, accounting for that 33 percent increase. Some of it we found was just across the street from Police headquarters

"I try to be more vigilant and report stuff when I see stuff," said East El Pasoan Pete Aponte.
Quick graffiti removal is important, according to Police.

"Graffiti is a way that street gangs communicate with each there and so that's a big issue for us," EPPD Spokesman Darrel Petry said. "If people would report that as soon as they see it, it definitely helps us."

Petry added, due to the spike, 10 officers and a sergeant were moved to the gang unit earlier this year.

Thank goodness we've actually got enough people staffed in that unit to continue to address what we're seeing with these increases," he said.

Petry said gang crimes these days are more likely to be tied to illegal narcotics, rather than turf wars and drive by shootings like in the 1990's.

"It's constantly evolving and it's very dynamic," Petry said. "We're just trying to keep up with all of those moving parts."

Here's how El Pasoans can help police: Anyone who spots graffiti anywhere in town or gang related activity, should call the gang tip line at (915) 212-GANG or Crime Stoppers at (915) 566-TIPS.

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