Sheriff’s Office educates New Castle residents about gangs |

Sheriff’s Office educates New Castle residents about gangs

John Gardner
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

NEW CASTLE, Colorado ” A photo of a trash can at a local middle school showed doodles in blue marker that wouldn’t make many people think twice.

Probably just a couple of kids not meaning any harm.

Three little dots arranged in a triangle, an “X3”, and three letters, “SUR” means nothing to a majority of residents in Garfield County communities. But for those who understand the message, it’s very clear that Garfield County communities have gangs.

“We’ve got middle schoolers tagging their playground,” said Garfield County Deputy Miller.

Miller, and Deputy McCune who didn’t want their first names published for safety reasons, gave a two hour presentation “Recognizing Gangs, the Signs of Gangs and Gang Members,” Thursday night at Riverside Middle School in New Castle.

The purpose of the meeting was to inform citizens on how to understand the writing on the trash can and what they should do about it.

Record it. Report it. Remove it.

The symbols on the trash can represented the “Sureno” gang, a gang under the umbrella of the Mexican Mafia, according to Miller.

Miller and McCune showed several pictures of kids as young as 9-years-old twisting their hands into symbols that represent their gang. They showed graffiti, more elaborate than the simple message on the trash can, representing more than 21 identified gangs within Garfield County.

The ages for recruitment to gangs are between 10 and 16.

“These are actual gangs that we’ve had inside of the jail and in the schools,” McCune said.

Gangs like the Mexican Mafia, 18th Street, Hell’s Angels, and even Bloods and Crips were all represented.

Close to 100 residents gathered in the school’s cafeteria to listen to the presentation of the Garfield County Sheriff’s Office new Threat Assessment Group (TAG).

The group was created in response to an increase of gang style activity in local communities.

Miller and McCune are assigned to the special unit full time, along with an additional two patrol deputies that relay information to the rest of the patrollers.

The unit’s primary goal is to combat gang related criminal activity by educating the communities on how to spot gang activity and what resources are available if they do, in order to get on top of it before the problem becomes overwhelming.

“We’re not saying it’s like East Los Angeles,” Sheriff Lou Vallario said. “But we are recognizing gang activity because they’re here and we don’t want it to get to that point.”

Six students were from Riverside were suspended in February for allegedly jumping two teens into a gang they were trying to form, according to police.

The new TAG unit’s purpose is to educate the communities and help them to deal with the problems. Miller stressed that no one should try to deal with the a situation on their own but report to the Sheriff’s Office what is happening, and let them deal with it.

“Intimidation won’t work. You can’t intimidate them,” Miller said. “Report what you are seeing and let us deal with it.”

The group hopes to have more presentations in other communities in the future.

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