WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - The Wilmington Police Department will ask for $140,000 for the creation of a new gang investigative unit at Tuesday's city council meeting.
The WPD has had a gang unit in the past, but say due to recent gang violence it needs to be brought back. Back in September, Police Chief Ralph Evangelous said the gang problem is the worst he is seen it.
On Monday, Evangelous said that this gang unit would be unlike any the department had assembled since he has been chief. He said it would also be a permanent unit that would not disband if gang violence started to settle down.
"We need to keep an eye on the structure of these gangs, understand who their associates are," said Evangelous. "Make sure we got pictures of them, we've got identifying marks, tattoos, that we're tracking these people all the time so that when a crime does occur, we can quickly respond to it and quickly solve it and get these people in custody as quickly as possible."
The gang unit would be comprised of five officers already within the police department. The unit would be used to combat street level gang activities through surveillance, long term investigations and use of informants. The unit will also take a long term approach in dismantling each gang network within the city.
As a part of the unit, the police department would also create a new position for a computer specialist. This position would replace a current sergeant position in the department. That sergeant would head up the new gang unit, if approved.
In his memo to council, City Manager Sterling Cheatham said recent efforts by the WPD reduced some of the violence, but as soon as the officers returned to their normal assignments, the gang violence erupted again.
The department is also requesting that council authorize 10 over hire positions to maintain the department's full strength throughout the year.
The total cost of these positions, along with the new civilian position, would be $142,281.
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