Montgomery County targets gang leaders; works with schools on gang prevention

Leaders in Montgomery County are expanding the police department's gang unit.

Montgomery County Police Chief, Tom Manger, says the restructuring will allow police to target gang leadership. It will also allow police to have gang detectives in each of the county's districts.

Manger says gang violence in Montgomery County is not a countywide problem. He says the new expansion will allow resources to focus on the problems in areas like Germantown, Gaithersburg, Silver Spring and Wheaton.

Montgomery County State's Attorney, John McCarthy, says the only logical way to go after gangs is to go after the leadership. "It only makes logical sense not to go after some young kid who was just recruited in the gang," McCarthy said, "But find out who's calling the shots in these particular areas and target them for removal from the community."

"Our focus is and has always been prevention," said Manger. He said the department focuses on schools as places to identify at-risk youth and to prevent them from joining gangs in the first place. He says the department works closely with counselors and school resource officers to intervene.

Manger said the county has seen some children as young as 12 and 13 years old turn to the gang community. "If we can catch them early we have the opportunity to steer them in the right direction," he said.