Police cracking down on Nashville gangs

Wednesday, April 7, 2010 at 5:36pm

Come next month, the Metro Police Department will have not only a new gang unit patrolling the streets but a stronger version of a recently introduced gang fighting tool.

Starting May 1, a new gang unit — made up of six detectives and one sergeant — will join the two existing ones, creating more time and personnel to help build cases against those involved in gang activity. Evidence developed in those cases will go to supporting civil injunctions against gang members. 

Last year, the General Assembly added gang activity to a list of nuisances under state law. Now district attorneys can go after gang members in civil court and serve them with injunctions to try to keep them from certain activity — hanging around a specific location or with a certain crowd, for instance.

“It’s going to have specific restrictions based on facts that are presented to a judge against the individual,” said Central Precinct Commander Damian Huggins. 

If gang members don't obey the injunctions, they would face contempt of court charges and possible jail time.

Metro Police Chief Ronal Serpas said injunctions have worked well in other cities but at an expense of time and effort to build case files against gang activity, something usually done undercover.

The six new detectives and one new sergeant come directly at the cost of officers in the field, which Serpas said that he’s “loath to do,” but that the shift in manpower makes sense to effectively fight gangs.

Police will also engage in “courtesy visits” to known gang members to talk about alternatives to their lifestyles.

Serpas and his ranking staff announced the new plans in North Nashville, near where 16-year-old Loren Johnson died after being struck by stray bullet in a gang-related shooting. 

13 Comments on this post:

By: nashvillecortes on 4/7/10 at 5:05

"If gang members don't obey the injunctions, they would face contempt of court charges and possible jail time."

are you kidding me ?

We are talking about people that kill people right ?

By: WickedTribe on 4/7/10 at 5:14

Sounds like Nashville doesn't even understand the concept of how to take gangs seriously.

By: TITAN1 on 4/7/10 at 7:04

Good work, chief! Now if they can make the sentences tougher and the judges do what they are suppose to do maybe we can get the thugs off the streets.

By: TITAN1 on 4/8/10 at 4:45

nashvillecortes, the injunctions pertain to hanging around other gang members, or at particular locations, etc. When they kill, they will still be arrested as always when they are caught. This should help getting some of them arrested before they commit a violent crime. Now we need tougher sentencing and for judges to enforce that sentencing to keep them off the streets.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 7:46

TITAN is correct. the problem is with the sentencing guidelines and the judges. MNPD is doing their job but the judges and the current sentencing guidelines flies in the face of the hard work put forth by the officers.

By: GUARDIAN on 4/8/10 at 10:36

It may be to late for Nashville. They have let political correctness and the fact that most gang members are minorities give way to common sense in getting rid of gangs. Now the gangs are so large and LEO's are not allowed to simply run them out of town. Gangs have all but destroyed a safe way of life in Memphis and soon Nashville will be in the same boat. Knoxville is next on the gangs list and there are several here but some of us have kept them out of our part of East TN the old fashion way. IT DOES WORK and they don't come back. In years past I worked in LE and I have said for over 30 years that gangs are one of America's worse problems. Gangs were on the Feds list of the most important things to take care of in 2001 but 9-11 happened and gangs were put on the back burner. It's not to the point yet in TN but out west there are areas that gangs control most everything. The people of TN deserve better than that but in Nashville's case your Chief of Police is much to weak and PC to get the job done. Knoxville and Chattanooga are in the same boat with their Chiefs. GOD Bless America and those who love her.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 11:31

GUARDIAN, i don't think it's too late yet but it is close. my neighborhood doesn't have much gang activity and the community groups there are on the ball about removing tagging ASAP. changing sentencing guidelines will help and it can't happen soon enough.

By: breathofdeath on 4/8/10 at 1:55

If the crackdown works my wife might have to teach at a different school since every gang in Nashville is well-represented at her school.

By: TITAN1 on 4/8/10 at 2:31

She must teach at the same school my daughter does.

By: Blanketnazi2 on 4/8/10 at 2:32

Glencliff?

By: TITAN1 on 4/8/10 at 2:32

Well, same area I should say since my daughter teaches at an elementary.

By: BEOWULF on 4/8/10 at 4:17

BEOWULF: (1) When a gang has members found guilty of any serious infraction(s), ALL members of that gang should be found guilty by means of collusion and association (just like a watchout or driver for a bank robbery involving murder). (2) All assests of ALL members should be seized and used to pay the court and victims. (3) All gang members should be isolated in insolitary confinement with NO communication to or from the outside. (4) No TV, computers, cell phones... . Their inhumane drug dealings, rapes, murders, beatings, sexual abuse, etc. should be reason enough to take their rights just as they took the rights away from their victims. Our present system mollycodlles these sociopaths who can change about as much as sex offenders.

By: breathofdeath on 4/8/10 at 4:27

Johnson School, on the corner of Second Avenue South and Chestnut.