PUEBLO LAW enforcement officials note that gang activity is on the rebound here after a decade of relative respite.
Several shootings and incidents of violence in recent months have been gang-related, and there’s been a spike in gang-related graffiti. Late in the spring gang specialists reported there are 28 recognizable gangs in Pueblo, with about 400 members in all.
The gangs range from motorcycle gangs to cult-like followers of the Detroit rap group Insane Clown Posse to groups of graffiti painters.
Much of the violence is committed in low-income areas, but there have been drive-by shootings in more affluent areas of the city, including the Union Avenue Historic District. Puebloans should not have to live in fear of gang violence.
Police Chief Jim Billings has taken a cue from his predecessor, Ruben Archuleta, who successfully countered increased gang activity and violence in the mid-1990s. During that time, the department used a lot of techniques that were effective.
The key weapon used then was good police work that ended in the arrest and conviction of the gang leaders. Now, however, police say some of those leaders have served their time in prison and are returning to the streets.
But gangs don’t necessarily commit all their criminality inside the city limits. That’s why a city-county gang task force of police and sheriff’s deputies makes sense.
Nipping gang activity in the bud is far better than waiting until there’s more blood spilled.