Law enforcement meeting to get a grip on gang crimes - WMBFNews.com, Myrtle Beach/Florence SC, Weather

Law enforcement meeting to get a grip on gang crimes

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MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - The National Gang Intelligence Center says the Grand Strand is located in one of the fastest-growing regions of the United States for gang-related activity. Right now there are about 103 gangs police area aware of in South Carolina alone.

Police say a lot of the activity happens off of Ocean Boulevard and in neighborhoods, but when it comes to noticing it, many people don't know what to look for.

"They don't know," said Elizabeth Bowens, with Mothers Against Violence. "Because it's not only in colors, it comes in tattoos. It comes in drawing pictures on paper, as young as third grade. So they don't know, parents don't know what to look for."

Many people focus on colors, signs, or tagging, but law enforcement stresses there are more hints to gang activity than you would think. Sometimes it's the way a person tips their hat, or how they have a bandana hanging out of their pocket.

Myrtle Beach Police say overall, the amount of gang activity they're seeing has increased over the past 10 years. They also have to worry about it doubling on their watch-- since they often see many different gang members from all over South Carolina coming to test the waters.

Gang conferences like the South Carolina Gang Investigators Association Conference, happening this week, are crucial to helping them, and you, stay in the know.

"There's always new players involved, and just new things that are happening, new trends," explained Lt. Bertang with Myrtle Beach Police. "So it's really important to stay on top of it, and really keep a handle on the gang issues." 

Police say they're sharing this information with you, and they are meeting with different community groups to keep you informed. The conference is being held at the Myrtle Beach Marriott Resort and Spa at Grand Dunes until Thursday.

Tune in to WMBF News this evening for a report on what was discussed today at the South Carolina Gang Investigators Association Conference.

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