Gang Task Force

Sheriff Jimmy Thornton and representatives from various government agencies in Sampson County met at the Sampson County Administration Auditorium on Monday, October 22nd to discuss "gang activity" in Sampson County and possible responses. The meeting was the first of the Sampson County Gang Task Force, which is sponsored by the Sampson County Sheriff's Office. 

Sheriff Jimmy Thornton stated, "We have a serious gang problem in Sampson County, and I intend to do something about it!  Sampson County has been identified as one of thirty-four jurisdictions by the Governor's Crime Commission with a pressing gang problem and eligible for funding for a Gang Investigator and prevention/intervention funding. We applied for a Gang Investigator/Intervention Coordinator as part of a grant in 2006; however the major metropolitan areas in the state received the funding. The current grant initiative targets rural as well as urban areas, and Sampson County is specifically identified."

Sheriff Thornton understands the value of seeking input from other disciplines, agencies, and the community to develop a community-wide response to the County's gang activity. He has facilitated meetings to engage representatives for local governments and civic organizations to identify risk factors associated with gang involvement and coordinate available resources for a community plan to address prevention, intervention, and suppression. 

The need for gang intervention and prevention is evident in the increase of gang-related crimes, i.e. drug sales, robberies, assaults, and other violent crimes. Gang graffiti and vandalism around the schools is an obvious sign of a growing community problem.

"To properly deal with the gang situation our entire community needs to respond.  Law enforcement can make arrests, but if we as a society don't do something to break the cycle, we're not in any better shape."  stated Thornton.