The Layton Police Department reports a large increase in gang activity in the city but believes its 14-point plan for deterrence is having some effect.
Kurt Cottrell, gang specialist officer in Layton, said even he didn't realize how widespread gang activity was in the city until he started gathering intelligence. He estimates 300 individuals in Layton are involved in gangs."We're trying to actively go out to them," Cottrell said.
He said officers have bothered one gang so much that gang members took a trip to Ogden one recent Saturday night to avoid being hounded by Layton police officers.
Cottrell said this sort of behavior has also resulted in Layton meeting with other police officers in the area once a week to coordinate anti-gang activity.
The I-15 corridor allows gangs to move freely along the Wasatch Front, making them less likely to be confined to one territory than in other areas of the country.
To better suppress gang activity, Layton officers are going after juveniles who are out after curfew, identifying gangs and individual gang members, doing shakedowns when warranted and trying to educate the public. They also stress the value of neighborhood watch programs.
About half of all gang members searched by the Layton police are carrying weapons. Two gangs are considered as causing the most problems in Layton.
More prevention and less reaction would also be helpful. Cottrell said nine out of 10 parents who have a child involved in gang activity are being helpful with the police. The others usually have great difficulty in admitting their child is even in a gang.
The Layton police suggest residents keep their eyes open and immediately report all suspicious activity. They said things like graffiti are crimes in progress and they have no qualms about a person using the 911 number to report it. Citizens can also contact the Layton police at 545-8560, 24 hours a day.
The following gang statistics were compiled by the Layton Police Department for the first quarter of 1994:
Number of gangs: 9 identified.
Graffiti incidents: 55, with more than $27,000 spent in removal costs.
Weapons violations: 18.
Disorderly conduct: 18.
Aggravated assaults: 5.
Vehicle thefts: 1.