Officials raise gang awareness
The Daily Record
The Cañon City Police Department and Cañon City Middle School teamed up to offer parents information about gang activity their children probably encounter in their own classrooms.
CCPD officers Maureen “Mo” Sheridan and Mike Slattery presented the information during the school’s monthly parent meeting.
“The reason we want you guys to know about it is because some of these kids are going to our schools with your kids,” Sheridan said. “And you need to know these guys are actually around here and what they’re involved in.”
Sheridan and Slattery said gang activity is not necessarily a major problem in Cañon City, but it does exist and the officers do keep close tabs on those who are known to be affiliated with gangs.
“We do have several hardcore gang members in this town,” Sheridan said. “Don’t ever let race really influence whether they are or aren’t (involved in a gang) in this part of the country.”
Pueblo has at least 43 known gangs, Sheridan said, and the CCPD has dealt primarily with the Sureños, Crips, Bloods, Folk Nation, Juggalos (ICP), and hate groups.
“Hate groups in this area are huge,” Sheridan said. “That’s our largest group.
“The Bloods we did not see a lot of until this year; we are starting to see it in our school system.”
Insane Clown Posse, which is based from a hip hop music group, is a growing problem in Cañon City, as well.
Males also are known as “juggalos” or “ninjas” and females are referred to as “juggalettes” or “ninjattes.”
“Something you guys as parents really, really, really need to know is these guys are all over in our school system right now,” Sheridan said. “Mainly in the middle school and into the high school.”
Those involved in ICP claim it is their “family” or “religion” rather than a gang, and commonly are in possession of knives, ice picks, screwdrivers or hatchets.
They do not like authority and are becoming more involved in criminal activity, Sheridan said, such as homicide, drugs and car hopping — breaking into cars.
“As parents, you need to listen to the music your kids listen to,” Sheridan said. “I cannot stress this enough.”
The ICP band’s “horrorcore” lyrics talk about drugs and murder and its symbol the “hatchetman” or “hatchetgirl” are banned in the school system in any form.
Students who bring bracelets, charms or other paraphernalia with the hatchetman will be confiscated.
“This was pulled off of a kid from the very school we are sitting in here,” Sheridan said displaying a hatchetman charm and chain. “If your kids are wearing this stuff, you need to be aware of what they’re involved in. Chances are they’re smoking pot .” or much much worse
Gang members bring an intimidation factor into the schools, Sheridan said, and as the School Resource Officer for the district, she has started to take a harder look at harassment.
“I have zero tolerance for harassment,” she said. “I have no sympathy for it, I have no tolerance for it.”
CCMS Principal Ken Trujillo said most students are afraid and intimidated by others associated in gangs and try to stay away from them.
However, he said a lot of bullying is kids trying to fit in with particular groups.
“We’ve gone to war with this stuff,” Trujillo said. “We’ve had a lot of arrests, we’ve had a lot of stuff going on; it’s a lot of drama.”
The officers said the presentation is not geared to scare parents, or to imply all teens are making poor choices; they simply want parents to be informed and aware of who their kids are with on a day-to-day basis.
“Parents can call me at anytime with any question about any of this,” Sheridan said.
Trujillo said a presentation regarding bullying, harassment and sexting will be scheduled at a later date and will be open to the community.
Officers Sheridan and Slattery may be reached at the CCPD at 276-5600.