JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The Jonesboro Fraternal Order of Police hosted a regional gang recognition and prevention course Friday for area law enforcement agencies.
Little Rock Police Department Patrolman Ronnie Morgan showed officers what to be on the lookout for, especially here in Arkansas.
The day before the course took place, Morgan rode around with officers of the Jonesboro Police Department to try and spot what, if any, gang activity there is in the area.
"Jonesboro, believe it or not, does a really good job of getting rid of the stuff you can see on the streets," Morgan said. "I hardly saw any graffiti that would indicate gang activity. Talking to the people that work in law enforcement, they're dealing with the people."
Morgan said, similar to in Little Rock, gang members are focusing their attention elsewhere.
"It's going away from painting up buildings to painting up Facebook. A lot of it takes place on social media," Morgan said.
Despite the lack of gang symbols around town, Morgan said it's still important to practice proactive policing.
"If you recognize it, and you know who you're dealing with, it gives you a chance," Morgan said. "The last part of the class is how to do some intervention and try to get people away from it. If you can recognize it at an early sign, then you have a better chance of intervening and getting them out of that."
FOP President Nathan Coleman agreed.
"Part of proactive policing is not being reactive. It's actually going out, seeking out the problems, finding them and making sure you have a plan in place for anything that can come about," Coleman said.
Coleman said Morgan's presentation also touched on bringing the departments together on a regional level to combat gang activity.
"He's going to try to really focus on how to bring all the departments together, from probation and parole, the jail, county, municipalities and state police and how we can work together," Coleman said. "So if there is a presence of gang activity in one certain area, we can kind of snuff it out and not allow it to grow into other cities and really get a foothold in our community."
Coleman said while the FOP often hosts community-oriented events to bring police and people together, events to bring officers together is just as important.
"Just to kind of build the brotherhood and get it out there to all these other officers that hey, we're here for you if you need something," Coleman said.
The gang recognition and prevention course lasted from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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