BY World's Editorials Writers
Tuesday, November 27, 2012
11/27/12 at 2:57 AM
Tulsa's two-decade-old gang problems ebb and flow; but mostly flow. There are times, however, when gang-related violent crime actually decreases and that's when federal and local law enforcement agencies combine forces to target gang problems.
During the targeted crackdown - from August to October this year - 11 law enforcement agencies combined forces to reduce gang crime. And they succeeded.
The task force recovered 29 firearms, $20,000 in cash, and $22,300 in cocaine, marijuana and PCP. That's just the confiscations. What's of significant interest to the public is that robbery-with-firearms crimes dropped by 31 percent and firearm-related assaults decreased by 23 percent. The task force also investigated 35 gun cases and interviewed more than 260 documented gang members.
It made several arrests in connection with homicide investigations.
Unfortunately, because of resource issues, Operation Triplebeam III, as the joint operation is known, cannot operate year-round. That's too bad. The operation, which started in 2010, has become a national model for the U.S. Marshals Service enforcement operations.
The commitment of local and federal law enforcement to reduce violent crime through multi-agency gang enforcement operations is key to ultimately reducing crime committed by any of the more than 3,000 active gang members.
Tulsa, insists Sgt. Sean Larkin, police gang unit leader, doesn't have any more gang activity than any other city. "But we know shootings, robberies and other crimes are tied to them."
Larkin is right but somehow there's little comfort to be found in comparisons. The gang problem is very real and very dangerous and the sheer number of gang members is alarming.
Tulsans appreciate the efforts that are made through Operation Triplebeam III. Too bad funding cannot be found to expand the Organized Gangs Unit. Is there a way to do that? That's a use of taxpayer dollars that each and every taxpayer would heartily endorse.