Gang issue should be taken seriously

Published 11:31 pm Saturday, June 24, 2017

Street gangs are in our community. They have been here for years. Our gangs have never seemed as brutal or as organized as gangs in large cities, but they are prevalent nonetheless.

Just how severe the gang problem in our community depends largely on whom you ask.

Natchez police leaders downplay the severity of gangs, suggesting they are mostly juveniles acting out in attempts to get attention.

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Adams County Sheriff Travis Patten says downplaying local gangs is a mistake for two reasons.

First, the sheriff suggests local gangs may not seem as deadly as those in the big city, but they should not be underestimated. They will kill without any concern for the lives affected — including their own.

Second, he suggests publicly downplaying gang members will only make them lash out for more attention.

Regardless of whether Patten is correct on the prevalence of gangs, he is clearly correct in that an element in our community disregards life.

Patten is also correct that downplaying those people — gang members or not — is not wise.

For our community to eliminate our violent crime problem, we must take the perpetrators seriously. Law enforcement cannot solve crimes without residents having the courage to stand up and report what they see and what they know about crimes.