FORSYTH COUNTY, N.C. - Attorney General Jeff Sessions made the trip to Winston-Salem to talk with officers at the North Carolina Gang Investigators Association Conference Thursday.
One thing he emphasized was working together; that's what Winston-Salem Police Captain Mike Weaver says has helped them better identify gang members and activity over the years.
"I think we've gotten better at detecting it," Captain Weaver says. "If you're looking for something and you're doing it in an educated manner, you're going to pick up on things easily."
The city's gang task force regularly shares intel with other local, state and federal agencies. With Sessions' visit, they're hoping to talk about getting more funding from the federal government to create more prevention and diversion programs.
"You're not going to arrest your way out of gang activity," he explains. "It starts with intervention and prevention."
For example, a diversion program with the county jail would help prevent people getting out from falling into a life of crime with gangs.
It would also help schools; making sure kids stay on a path that steers clear of gang activity and teach staff what to look for if a student is more susceptible to get involved in a gang.
"A sense of belonging," Captain Weaver explains. "They're not getting the love and attention at home and they seek it. The gang members they form a quasi-family. So, the things that are lacking at home tend to draw individuals into gangs."
In Forsyth County there are about 1600-1800 gang members of the county's more than 369,000 residents. Police say there about 35-38 different gangs.
Sometimes they try and recruit kids from schools, but resource officers work closely with investigators to try and prevent that.
The city of Winston-Salem also has programming to teach parents about gangs and what to look for in case they might suspect their child is involved in one.
It could be something as simple as certain colored shoelaces or bandanas. You can check the city's website for more information.
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