CONROE, TEXAS – Assistant County Attorney, Phyllis Rainey, says that officials from law enforcement, juvenile justice and social services agencies formed the “Montgomery County Youth Gang Taskforce” this month, in order to combat an emerging local gang problem and to prevent the spread of a criminal gang culture in Montgomery County.
The Youth Gang Taskforce is an organization intended to collect, compile, maintain, analyze, share, report, and act upon information and intelligence relevant to youth-oriented criminal gangs and juvenile gang members in Montgomery County, Rainey said. The Montgomery County Attorney’s Office prosecutes juveniles and will be the central agency for compiling and maintaining data from other members of the Youth Gang Taskforce and will also be working with schools in Montgomery County to implement gang awareness and gang prevention programs.
“The purpose of the Youth Gang Taskforce is to identify juvenile gang members early so that they are treated differently than other juveniles in the system,” Rainey said. “If rehabilitation can be used, it will be, but the County Attorney’s Office first needs information to identify juveniles who are affiliated with gangs so that it can pursue more aggressive strategies in dealing with them. We have to address the youth gang culture or we are missing an opportunity to stop crime now and in the future.”
There may also be other ways that the County Attorney’s Office can help curb gang activity, said Brett Peabody, the Chief of the Juvenile Prosecution Division at the Montgomery County Attorney’s Office. “Some other counties are pursuing civil injunctions prohibiting certain gang activities,” Peabody said, “We may not yet have the same problems that some other counties have, but we want to be proactive in preventing gang infiltration into Montgomery County.”
“It is also important to focus on youth because organized criminal gang networks are actively recruiting kids as young as ten years old,” Peabody said. “By the time some young gang
members turn into adults, they may already be hardened criminals with extensive criminal experience under their belts.”
Representatives from numerous county law enforcement agencies will participate in the taskforce. Conroe Independent School District Police Department Chief William Harness said that his department will serve as the lead law enforcement agency for the taskforce.
Montgomery County Juvenile Probation will also be instrumental in the Taskforce. “Because probation officers work closely with many of our county’s most troubled kids, they can do a lot of things that law enforcement officers cannot do,” Peabody said. Other social service and educational agencies will be involved in helping to provide and promote alternatives to the gang lifestyle.