03/13/06 — Gangs here: Duplin captain gives some good advice

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Gangs here: Duplin captain gives some good advice

“If people sit in their homes and say, ‘nothing is going on here,’ the gangs will take over all communities — black, white and Hispanic. Our common cause is to make this a safe place for kids to learn and live.”

Speaking was Capt. Timmy Jones of the Duplin County Sheriff’s Department.

All of us should listen to his warning.

Captain Jones was expressing to News-Argus reporter Bonnie Edwards concerns the Duplin Sheriff’s Department has over signs of increasing activity of gangs in several schools. It is evident in distinctive dress, graffiti and other messages on restroom walls, on confiscated notebooks — and probably on other intelligence.

Duplin applied for a grant to help it solve the growing problem. It should get it. But let none among us feel a state or federal grant will allow us to “sit at home and feel the problem has been solved,” to paraphrase Captain Jones.

For years those of us in this part of the country — especially agrarian regions — have felt gangs were confined to big cities “up North.”

There have been all too many indications — in both serious and petty crime reports — that this is not the case.

Responsible parents, teachers, employers and youngsters, whether white, black or Hispanic, need to be observant of signs of emerging gangsterism. And they need to share their concerns with responsible contacts.

The courts and the schools also should be ever mindful of another observation made by Captain Jones. “If we determine that a crime is gang-related, we want to make sure they (the perpetrators) are not slapped on the hand and sent home.”

That admonition also could apply to parents. They well could have a choice between “shaping their kids up” — or seeing them go to prison. Or the execution chamber.

Published in Editorials on March 13, 2006 10:34 AM