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Ga. Attorney General visits Valdosta to discuss anti-gang recruitment, violent crime

Due to rising crime across the state, the Anti-Gang Network hosts a meeting to discuss anti-crime strategies.
Posted at 5:57 PM, Jun 27, 2024
  • Valdosta's homicide rate increased from 2 per 100,000 in 2019 to 14 per 100,000 in 2023.
  • The Gang Prosecution Unit has secured 41 convictions and indicted 139 individuals across multiple counties.
  • Watch the video to hear from concerned neighbors who would like to see direct action when it comes to local gang activity.

BROADCAST TRANSCRIPT

Crime has been rising in the Azalea City.

"It's time to be proactive and not be reactive."

I'm Malia Thomas, your neighborhood reporter in Valdosta.

I'm tracking how our state's Gang Prosecution Unit is making that happen.

"Here, it says 'The reason why most people join gangs is for protection.' What do you make of that?

Most of that comes from bullying."

That's Aaron Winston, creator of local nonprofit REACH TWO, which aims to protect the area children from violence and bridge the gap in family structures.

He tells me he's been concerned with what he calls an uptick in violence in the city.

"The crime is going up. The youth activity with gun violence is getting out of hand."

Another person noticing these crimes? Attorney General Chris Carr.

He met up with his Anti-Gang Network in Valdosta Thursday to speak with law enforcement officers like Valdosta Police Chief Leslie Manahan about new and ongoing efforts to combat violent crime and gang recruitment.

"The purpose of this group is to improve intelligence sharing, improve prosecutions, improve information, but also identify proven anti-recruitment programs."

Homicides have been on the rise in Valdosta for the last five years.

Murder rates jumped from 2 per 100,000 people in 2019 to 14 per 100,000 in 2023.

Aaron tells me one of the solutions to the problem is...

"Find something that we can actually give our youth something to do and earn money at the same time."

The Gang Prosecution Unit has already secured 41 convictions and indicted 139 individuals across multiple counties. In Valdosta, I'm Malia Thomas, reporting for ABC27.