OLIVE BRANCH —
OLIVE BRANCH, Miss. (AP) — The DeSoto County Sheriff's Office and police departments in Horn Lake, Olive Branch and Southaven are forming a gang task force.
"We don't like to say that we have a gang problem, but we do have a gang problem," Sheriff Bill Rasco during a news conference Tuesday at the Olive Branch Police Department.
"It is something that we are going to deal with because we are not going to put up with it."
The Commercial Appeal reports (http://bit.ly/1pNr42L ) Southaven police recently responded to calls about gangs driving through an apartment complex and firing shots into the air.
In Olive Branch, one of the city's two homicides this year, as well as a drive-by shooting, was gang-related.
Rasco said gangs in DeSoto County are not new, but what law enforcement said they have seen in the past year is organized and younger gangs committing more violent crimes in the county.
The law enforcement agencies and district attorney's office will pool manpower and share information on gang-related crimes. Each department has assigned at least two officers full-time to the task force. It will be coordinated through the sheriff's department.
"The officers on the task force will be deputized under the sheriff's department so they can do their duties anywhere in the county," Rasco said. "We are not backing down from anyone."
Southaven Police Chief Tom Long said task force members will work together to combat the problems in any of their areas or the county. They will also cross state lines to share data and intelligence with Memphis and Shelby County.
District Attorney John Champion has assigned a prosecutor as a consultant.
"We will prosecute as a team," Champion said. "Gang activity is not only a problem in DeSoto County, but I am seeing it districtwide throughout the other counties in the Delta that I handle. It is becoming a very prevalent issue."
Champion also prosecutes cases in Grenada, Montgomery, Panola, Tate and Yalobusha counties.
Information from: The Commercial Appeal, http://www.commercialappeal.com