Area law enforcement officials cite statistics showing that the amount of violent crime in the area is down. That feels about right; but we also have a feeling that some of it is right there, just out of sight, ready to get back in business. That’s how we feel about gang activity, especially.

It might not seem as prevalent as in the past, but we’re pretty sure it’s still all around us – maybe hiding out, but still around. We’re sounding a tad paranoid, we realize, but we just don’t want criminal street gangs around and influencing our community and kids.

Marysville Police Sgt. Nelson Magana, in a recent Appeal article, said gang activity has dropped a good bit over the last few years in town. But that’s not necessarily the case just outside the Marysville city limits – in the Olivehurst/Linda neighborhoods and out in the unincorporated county, officers have numerous gang-related shootings to investigate. 

And gangs are still bringing new members – mostly kids – into their ranks.

Recruitment starts in middle and high schools, according to Yuba County Sheriff’s Det. Fernando Machuca.  And law enforcement has been encountering younger kids.

And the business of tracking gang activity isn’t quite how it used to be. As an Appeal reporter put it, “Instead of colored bandanas and numbered tattoos, think skinny jeans and Snapchat.” The point is that gang members would rather avoid being listed on the state’s registry (being on the list can mean harsher penalties when prosecuted). So teens are less likely to display colors and icons on their T-shirts and bandanas. 

It also seems that trash talking is less likely to be heard by officials. Teens’ use of social media allows them to escalate rivalry without being out in the open. And the application Snapchat allows them to post provocative video and photos that self-delete after 24 hours.

Magana said in the story that social media acts as a forum of communication for older gang members, too, and some platforms make investigations harder, some easier.  

Times and trends change, even for gangs.

The point is, we believe it is still right there in the shadows, and it’s a wise strategy for our law enforcement community to continue to keep abreast of the latest trends in gangland. And it’s a good strategy for our local governments and law enforcement agencies to continue supporting NET-5, our local gang and drugs task force.

(By the way, officers say that parents can monitor their children, in this regard, by tracking who they hang out with, any behavioral changes, and signs like notebook scribbles centered around numbers, colors, or gang-like tagging, as well as keeping informed on their kids’ social media accounts. For gang-related questions, call Machuca at 749-7777 or your local law enforcement agency.)

Our View editorials represent the opinion of the Appeal-Democrat and its editorial board and are edited by the publisher and/or editor. Members of the editorial board include: Publisher Glenn Stifflemire and Editor Steve Miller.

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