Gang activity in Fort Collins remained at low levels in 2009

Good thing the people of fort collins have stopped the juggalo gang

Criminal gang activity in Fort Collins remained at low levels in 2009 with a majority of the crimes attributed to graffiti, according to reports recently released by the city’s police department.

“We have relatively low levels of gang activity,” said Sgt. Paul Wood, who works in the Criminal Impact Unit. “If you compare us to other cities around the nation of our size, they’re almost exclusively reporting more gang activity than we are.”

Wood said less than 1 percent of all the cases opened by police are linked to known gang members.

The gang reports indicate there were 116 gang-involved cases opened by Fort Collins police in 2009 compared to 83 in 2008. Wood said other Northern Colorado cities, such as Loveland and Greeley, currently are facing more serious issues with gangs. He also said as one city cracks down on gang activity, it’s common for some gang members to move to one of the neighboring municipalities.

“Between Fort Collins, Loveland and Greeley, we’re kind of working against each other in some ways,” Wood said. “By each of us working more on

gangs, we end up pushing them out to other cities and they push them out toward us.”

In July 2009, Wood said a large number of known gang members were pushed out of the city following numerous stabbings and also a shooting that were the result of rival gang members living in the same apartment complex.

“Instigators of those crimes were arrested, displaced through eviction or left from too much pressure from us,” Wood said.

According to Larimer County Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman Eloise Campanella, the Norteños and Sureños are the gangs most frequently booked into the county jail so far in 2010.

She reported in her blog Wednesday that there was an average of 54 known gang members booked in the jail on any given day during the first three months this year. About 18 of those gang members were Norteños and about 13 were Sureños, according to Campanella.

“We also had Juggalo, Aryan, Bloods, Crips and Motorcycle represented in our facility during this first quarter,” she wrote in her blog.

Still, most gang-involved crimes in Fort Collins are non-violent and committed by high school-aged offenders or young adults, Wood said.

A large portion of the increase in gang crimes from 2008 to 2009 is for criminal mischief, which Wood said are crimes largely attributed to graffiti incidents.

Wood said those crimes are being reported more frequently after the city hired Nick Myers as a part-time abatement coordinator.

“We’ve gotten more reports and (Myers) has done a great job of being able to separate what graffiti is gang-related and what is some kid out spray painting his initials on a sign,” Wood said.

Both Myers and Wood said graffiti remains an under-reported crime.

“It’s my belief that only half of the graffiti in our city is being reported,” Myers said. “The graffiti hotline only takes in a portion of what’s out there.”

Myers said, as with some months in 2009, this March was a particularly busy month for graffiti taggers. He said the warm weather months, combined with an increasing number of vacant homes and businesses, may contribute to the increased amount of graffiti.

“(March) has been the worst month on record as far as the number of reports taken since we started taking them back in 2004,” Myers said.

When it comes to gang activity, Wood said, the general public needs to worry more about property crimes such as graffiti than it does about violent crimes.

The 2009 gang report indicates there were no homicides and two sexual assaults connected to gangs, although Wood said sexual assaults are vastly under-reported crimes whether they’re tied to gangs or not.

“The big impacts that gangs have on the general community are going to be property-related crimes either by theft or burglaries from a car or a house, lot or business,” Wood said. “Those are going to be our two biggest areas of impact on average, everyday citizens in the community.”

More violent crimes, such as the nine aggravated assaults and 22 simple assaults reported in 2009, are generally crimes with victims associated with gangs, Wood said.

“Assaults and menacings are almost exclusively one gang member on another,” he said. “That can be within the same overall gang or between two different gangs.”

According to the 2009 gang report, 81 of the 116 gang involved crimes were classified as gang-“motivated,” meaning they were crimes believed to be committed to enhance the status or function of a gang.

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