LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – We know they’re here, but how many, how dangerous and how prevalent are gangs in Little Rock?
Information obtained by Fox 16 sheds light on gang activity and we asked Little Rock Police about it.
The document identifies several gangs and nearly a dozen key players. It’s information we haven’t been told before on the record so we asked them to acknowledge what many people feared: increasing violence at the hands of gangs.
“We do have gangs in Little Rock and we’re trying to get a grip on that,” Lt. Steven McClanahan said.
According to LRPD, there are currently 39 active gangs with hundreds of members roaming the streets in our neighborhoods.
It’s the first time in a long time LRPD has acknowledged or discussed the prevalence of gangs in the Capitol City.
For example, we now know the first homicide of the year, when a shooting killed Mashon Jackson, 20, was gang related.
“We also know the players involved in that one,” Lt. McClanahan added. “Mashon Jackson, some of the other individuals involved being a part of the Crips.”
We’re told of the almost 40 gangs, ten are major with just a handful causing the most trouble.
Sources say the gangs are younger, less organized than those in the 90s when they were working to secure their spot on the streets.
“Now you have a bunch of guys who only answer to their selves or one or two other people that are around them,” said a Detective on Little Rock’s Gang Squad Intelligence Unit. “They’re not asking them for permission to go shoot at somebody or anything else. They’re doing it and somebody’s shooting back it them.”
He credits local hospitals, faster response times and life saving training for police officers for saving lives and preventing the 150 shootings Little Rock had in 2016 from leading to those higher homicide rates of the past.
“A lot of the guys that are getting shot now just aren’t dying.”
LRPD has a new Violent Crimes Unit which rolled out permanently Saturday (2/4). It says its new unit will be an intelligence led team allowing data to direct locations and people for police to focus on.
Chief Kenton Buckner told us the job for this unit, “is not to sit on our heels and wait to be called but to proactively go into these historical hot spots and focus on key violent offenders.”
We asked why, when the role of a police department is to be proactive, why make that step now and what has held them back. See their response below:
When we asked “why now?” about LRPD trying to be proactive and that some would consider it a failure by a PD to just now try that path: pic.twitter.com/h2qi2GWTQs— Josh Berry (@_joshberry) February 6, 2017