MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Mobile police arrested several gang members in the city, with many of them having ties to the increasing gun violence in the city.
Mobile police said 44 of those recently arrested have self-identified with known gangs in the city. These gangs are tied to the wave of gun violence seen in the City of Mobile. There has been an increase in shootings into cars and homes in the past few months, which Mobile Police believe may be retaliatory.
“It starts out as juvenile gangs, and it continues with many of these young people into their young adulthood,” said Lawrence Battiste, the Director of Public Safety with the City of Mobile.
“We know that because of self-identification, through relationships, through the music they’re putting out, or the things they’re trying to do to pull people into their circle.”
Battiste said the patterns of gang-related violence are starting to be recognized as Mobile Police make more arrests. According to Battiste, they don’t follow our typical ideas of organized crime.
“We’ve never seen the organizational structure that’s associated with gangs as we think about them in the traditional sense, with a boss at the top and he’s giving orders and other people are going out and committing other crimes like burglaries and assaults and stuff like that,” said Battiste.
“We have not. We have not seen that kind of structure with what we call gangs here in the City of Mobile, but we cannot deny the fact that they have gang-like behavior.”
This is all part of Operation Echo Stop, police are using intelligence, investigative resources and technology in an effort to reduce gun violence. The arrests come as the first phase of the operation is complete, which focused on prevention, deterrence, compliance and detection.
“The goal is based off the earlier detection to be able at some point to prevent or deter crime from actually occurring,” said Battiste.
Police are using the resources with Operation Echo stop to target shooters directly, attempting to make the city safer.
“If we make someone feel safer in their neighborhood, that spreads out to the greater neighborhood,” said Battiste. Phase two of Operation is in development, which includes the rollout of ShotSpotter, the gunshot detection technology. ShotSpotter will go live at the end of June.
Mobile police have set up a tip line for people to report people they know or suspect are involved in a gang, you can call or text 251-404-4066.