Recent fights have gang connections, officers say

GREEN BAY – Law enforcement says the group of teens arrested in a fight in Howard, and a teen charged with fights at Preble High School all have gang connections.

While Captain Jeff Sanborn of the Brown County Sheriff’s Department mentioned gangs like Gangster Disciples and Latin Kings with the Howard fight, he didn’t say if the teens were a member of either.

Sanborn did explain that larger gangs often have loosely-affiliated off-shoots in smaller cities, usually linked to drug dealing.

“They get more and more kids involved in our area we’re sort of naïve as far as the students in our area but if there’s a way to make some extra money and not have to work too hard at it,” said Sanborn.

The National Gang Center resources say gangs can start anywhere; usually, with groups of younger teens looking for a group to belong to.

Green Bay public schools used to have a specific program that encouraged middle school students to stay out of gangs. However, it ended in 2010.

“We did have the GREAT program but for the last couple of years the funding was eliminated so that was some law enforcement funding from the federal government,” said Barb Dorff, the district’s director of pupil services.

Dorff says schools struggle to keep up with what gangs might be operating.

“Their colors, they change their signs, they change their tagging,” described Dorff. “It’s an evolving thing, and there are kids that belong to a ‘gang’ that are not involved in criminal activity.”

Officers and school administrators say they remain vigilant on preventing gang activity in young people.

Dorff says parents should look out for certain warning signs. They include: staying out past curfew, missing school, slipping grades, behavior issues in class, a preference towards a certain type of clothing or color of clothing that friends also wear, tagging belongings or themselves with gang signs, and an influx of cash not normal for teenagers.

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