DESOTO COUNTY, Miss. -- "We don’t like to say we have a gang problem, but we have a gang problem,” DeSoto Sheriff Bill Rasco said.
Now law officers from departments across DeSoto are joining together to stop it.
They say incidents like the recent drug deal just down the street from Southaven Police Headquarters that ended with one man dead and an officer injured likely have gang connections.
Sheriff Rasco says a new gang task force includes officers from all jurisdictions and will root out problems wherever they turn up, ”If they have a problem in the city, we’re gonna shift to that area where there's been a problem. We’re gonna take care of it and move to the next city or move to the county.”
He believes by working together, these departments can put a lid on growing violence in DeSoto.
Police say gang members have lived here for years, but mostly did their business elsewhere. Now that’s changed, with officers chasing gang violence from town to town across DeSoto County.
Southaven Police Chief Tom Long says it’s getting worse, ”It seems to us to have changed in the past year to where now, we’re starting to see them organize to establish, maybe a territory, a lot more wearing of colors.”
The task force also includes an assistant district attorney to tackle violence that’s making its way past DeSoto County.
”I’ve got cases right now where I’ve got defendants in Tallahatchie County from Horn Lake. I’ve got a case in Panola County with a defendant from Southaven,” District Attorney John Champion said.
Sheriff Rasco says the effort also includes a gang expert working in the jail and help from Colonial Hills Church, ”We want this County to be safe and that’s the goal for this whole group.”
He says it’ll give DeSoto County a fighting chance against growing gangs.