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Friday, August 8, 2014 - 6:18am

Savannah-Chatham Police Partnering With State To Search For Signs Of Gangs

Savannah-Chatham police are joining forces with gang experts from the State of Georgia to assess possible gang-related activity in the city.

Officers will fan out across the city Friday night to talk with residents and check on youths under supervision by the Department of Juvenile Justice.

More than 30 Savannah-Chatham police officers are working with a 15-member gang team from DJJ. They’ve met with public school students starting classes this week and asked about gangs in their neighborhoods.

"We’ll probably find out from them where they hang out, if there is a legitimate gang, what are those names and who they’re associated with, whether it be Crips, Bloods, or MS-13," says Maj. James Barnwell of the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

Barnwell briefed city council members on Thursday. He says the officers from the state are bringing special training and knowledge to the effort.

"They’re gonna go around town and help us identify if we have a legitimate gang problem. They’ll go around town, look at graffiti," he says.

Depending on the outcome of the gang assessment, Barnwell says Savannah-Chatham police may form a special gang-response unit. He says the effort is not prompted by a recent spate of more than 20 shootings in Savannah.

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