Montgomery Co. police chief: Gang ‘violence is ramping up’

WASHINGTON — The D.C. region is seeing an uptick in gang violence, and in response, Montgomery County police have increased resources to combat the disturbing trend.

Montgomery County Police Chief Tom Manger said there’s no question gang violence is on the rise.

“When you’ve got victims who have had their limbs cut off and just mutilated in a way that we’re finding these bodies, it really does act as an indication that the violence is ramping up,” he told WTOP.

While there are cases of gang activity being directed from Central America, such as MS-13 and the Latin Kings, Manger said there are other violent neighborhood gangs that police monitor, such as the Bloods and Hit Squad.

“These kids are born and raised in the U.S., and then the other half of our gang activity is the ethnic-based gangs who align themselves with folks from their country of origin,” he said.

Gang activity is not prevalent throughout the county; in fact, Manger said it is concentrated in certain areas and difficult to find in others. And while he said gang members tend to target each other, there have been more brutal killings in 2017 without question.

To combat the increase in violence, the department is adding resources.

“So, we are upping our suppression efforts in terms of doing longer-term gang investigations, as well as putting more gang officers out on the street to know who the players are, to get in contact with them, maybe to prevent some of these things from occurring in the first place,” Manger said.

Part of the effort is addressing current activity. The other is prevention because at the age of 13 or 14, a teenager might be well down the path of becoming a gang member, Manger said.

“This is where we’re trying to intervene and get these young kids back on the right path, so we can reduce the impact that gang activity has in this county,” he said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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