MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) – The third week of the Myrtle Beach Police Department's Citizen Police Academy focused on the department's gang unit and the work being done to combat gangs and gang activity in city limits.
Officer in the gang unit explained that gang association is no longer solely based on ethnicity. Gangs will offer a sense of belonging to anyone. But loyalty comes at a price often escalating in violence.
The undercover officers explained how they keep track of known gang members and identify new ones.
"Over the years, officers would collect information as they patrol their areas," explains Lt. Joey Crosby, the spokesman for the Myrtle Beach Police Department. "And they would keep information on various people they had identified as being gang members. And over the years we've now dedicated officers to work solely on monitoring gang activity. Both on the streets and what also may be seen over in our jail system."
Some common indicators to look for in suspected gang members include tattoos and graffiti that include numbers, colors, and symbols. Parents are encouraged to pay close attention to students' notebooks for doodles and drawings that might mean more than a simple star or crown. Aggressive behavior is another indicator.
The officers noted that one indicator does not condemn someone as a gang member. But it should encourage more parental involvement to make sure it's not a sign of something more.
The undercover officers say the gangs they encounter most in Myrtle Beach are mainly Bloods, Crips, the 1% motorcycle Gangs, and White supremacist groups. Members of the MS13 and the SUR13, two violent Latin gangs, have been arrested in city limits. But offers explained there are very few Latin gangs in the city in comparison to the other gangs.
It is difficult to get out of a gang because of fear of retaliation. But the police department does offer resources and suggestions for protection. If you are trying to leave a gang, reach out to the police department's non-emergency line at 843-918-1382.