MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) SC Gang Investigators Association kicked off the annual conference on Monday morning. The three day conference will focus on gang related activity and trends in the Carolinas and surrounding areas. The primary focus will be training law enforcement officers from across the state to identify gang members and investigate the many diverse crimes that they commit.
The conference is also an opportunity for police officers to share intelligence on what they refer to as 'domestic terrorism.' Officers attending the conference say gangs are linked to crimes like drug trafficking, robberies, and shootings. Elbert Pearson is the SC Gang Investigators Association president.
According to Pearson violent street gangs are a widespread problem which is why they brought in gang violence experts from police agencies across the country.
"We have different people here because gang activity is a transnational problem. This is for the safety of our officers and for the safety of the community," says Pearson.
Local police officials say the problems with gangs in our very own backyard. In order to combat the problem, they are focusing on prevention. Local law enforcement officers say they are using the intelligence they gather from gang members inside the jail system to stop other gang members on the streets before they commit crimes.
Another form of prevention is community outreach, especially to middle and high school students. Police officials at the conference say gangs recruit teenage kids, when most of them are at a vulnerable state.
Officers are currently working with churches to create after school programs to show these kids there is a better way than getting involved with the gang life. The SC Attorney General, Alan Wilson, was a speaker at the conference Monday morning "
Being preventative as opposed to waiting until the kid commits the crime, and then reaching out to the kid afterwards. We're trying to get to them before the gangs do," says Wilson.