Lebanon police tout community gang awareness program - WSMV News 4

Lebanon police tout community gang awareness program

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LEBANON, TN (WSMV) -

Gang activity is not just a big city problem. Many small towns throughout the Midstate have reported issues with gangs in the past year.

Now, one police department is teaching its citizens what to look for to help crackdown on these gangs.

Lebanon police say the city's location along Interstate 40 means prime position for the power and cash that go hand in hand with weapons and narcotics for gangs.

"For one, I mean, drug prices. They could get more money for the same amount of drugs if they drove 45 minutes down the interstate," said Lebanon police Officer Jay Spicer.

Police have started a free community outreach program to help its citizens lay out fact and fiction when it comes to gang signs, activities and even some of the myths they have heard over the years.

Gang symbols can pop up anywhere, and the workshop makes sure parents know what to look for even in their kids' homework.

"Like symbols that you are seeing on these walls and businesses and stuff like that, if you'll notice stuff like that on their notebooks or just papers in their room," Spicer said.

Those symbols are often disguised in tattoos, and gang affiliation colors are often found in sports jerseys that members wear out in public.

"Without community involvement, it makes it really hard for us to do our job," Spicer said.

Already, citizen calls have helped police shut down one bar and confiscate weapons and drugs from a car at a known gang hangout. Plus, officers made a big bust last month to put a dozen gang members behind bars.

Lebanon police say that is proof their gang education program continues to work.

"It's a little victory to take something back," Spicer said.

In addition to the citizens' gang education program, Lebanon police also regularly visit schools and host other outreach programs.

For more information, visit: http://www.lebanonpd.org.

Copyright WSMV 2012 (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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