What Can Parents Do?
There is no substitute for involvement. Show an active, sincere interest in your children's lives. Encourage and support positive activities, monitor their whereabouts when not involved in organized activities, and enforce curfews. Know your children's friends, know their parents, and encourage the practice of notifying each other if anything unusual occurs with your child or anyone else's child. Plan constructive activities through schools, community groups, and churches. Confront your child if you suspect gang involvement. Ignoring or delaying will only increase the chance and severity of later problems. Seek help from school counselors, social service agencies, ministers, or law enforcement, and take a strong stand against gang activity.
If you suspect gang involvement, examine your child's room and belongings for gang symbols, drug paraphernalia, and weapons. Finding several different items of gang paraphernalia, drugs, or weapons is cause for immediate action. Contact law enforcement-you may literally be saving someone's life, probably your child's.
Encourage and support school and community policies which address gang related activity. Notify law enforcement or school officials of graffiti or gang activity.
How to Fight Gang Activity
Education: Knowledge of gangs and their symbols, signs, colors, and graffiti will help citizens to help law enforcement, in combating gang problems.
Community Involvement: The community provides the best assistance we can receive. If you see any type of gang activity in your neighborhood, report it to law enforcement. Be willing and prepared to testify in court if necessary.
Parental Support: Spend time with your children. Plan family activities. Take time to discuss gangs with your children--listen, don't lecture. Know your child's friends. Be aware. If your child is bordering on becoming a gang member or is already a gang member, get help now. Don't wait, it will only increase the problem.
What Is the Polk County Sheriff's Office Doing to Curb Gang Activity?
The Polk County Sheriff's Office is utilizing a multi-faceted approach to combating gang activity. The Sheriff's Office is one of the most progressive and proactive agencies in the state. The Sheriff's Community Policing program is designed to allow a more responsive and proactive style of policing throughout communities in Polk County.
Each patrol shift within each of the Sheriff's four patrol districts has a primary and secondary gang liaison assigned to the shift. It is the function of the gang liaison to gather gang intelligence and forward that intelligence to the Gang Suppression Unit for follow up investigation. It also ensures that a specially trained gang liaison is on duty in each part of the county at all times.
The Sheriff has formed a Gang Suppression Unit whose main function is to investigate gang activity and gather gang intelligence. The unit is also responsible for assisting investigative units within the agency and other agencies with gang related criminal investigations.
The Sheriff's Office is a founding member of the Tampa Bay Multi-Agency Gang Task Force which is comprised of law enforcement agencies in Polk, Pinellas, Pasco and Hillsborough Counties. This task force provides personnel to a requesting agency at no cost to that agency. The task force is made up of specially trained gang investigators from local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies.
The Sheriff's Office is the founding agency of the Polk County Gang suppression Task Force which is comprised of law enforcement agencies within Polk County. This task force is for the sole purpose of fighting gang activity in Polk County and allows for investigation in any jurisdiction within the county.
The Sheriff's Office has also formed a Graffiti Eradication Program. Utilizing inmate labor, community service probationers, and civic groups the Sheriff's Office coordinates the removal of graffiti throughout the county. This program is also supported by all of the municipal law enforcement agencies throughout Polk County. Through the support of corporate sponsors, who provide paint and materials, this program is offered free of charge. If you are interested in participating in this program please call the Gang Suppression Unit at 297-3101.