Tulsa area teachers went to school on Friday to learn about gangs. The class is called Gangs 101 and covers the basics of gang clothing, language, hand signals and behavior.
Just the word "gang" is scary because of all it represents; shootings, murders, drug dealing and a totally lawless mindset. News On 6 crime reporter Lori Fullbright reports schools are seeing the behavior inside their doors and need to know what they should and can do about it.
It's no secret Tulsa County has a gang problem and that smaller, more rural towns are also feeling the gang presence.
When gangs are in a community, they are also in that community's schools and that's why educators are trying to learn all they can about spotting gang behavior early.
Tulsa County has basically eight main gangs that include Bloods, Crips, Hispanic, Asian, White supremacist and Outlaw Motorcyclists. Within those gangs are approximately 160 subsets. Those subsets contain about 4,000 members.
Although that's a large number, police say Tulsa is lucky in that innocent citizens are rarely victims of gang violence.
"I've said it before, if you're not buying drugs, selling drugs, not carrying gun, hanging out with gang members, your chances of being a victim of gang violence is very low," said Sgt. Van Ellis, TPD Gangs Unit.
In Tulsa, the black gangs reside mostly in North Tulsa, white gangs in West Tulsa, Asian gangs at 21st and Garnett and Hispanic gangs at 31st and Mingo. The area around 61st and Peoria is a combination of black and white gangs, which all follows basic population patterns.
Gang members tend to pick a color that represents their set, they often choose sports teams with that color, because the clothing is less obvious.
Police say spotting pre-gang behavior is critical to keep kids from becoming full blown gang members, just like catching kids when they first start using drugs could stop them from becoming full blown addicts. Often, the warning signs are the same.
"Dress, certain styles of music, friends, who they're hanging around with, dabbling in violence, dabbling in drugs abuse," said Sgt Van Ellis.
The ATF and Oklahoma Gang Investigators Association put on Friday's workshop.
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