Local gangs are recruiting younger members

A.D.A. Andrea Ewings speaks at a gang task force meeting. / Sean Streicher

There's no question gangs are a problem around Dougherty County, what's more troubling than the amount of gangs is the declining age of new gang members.

"what we're seeing now is a trend where adult are recruiting children who are a lot younger.", said Dougherty County Assistant District Attorney, Andrea Ewings.

Representatives from the Albany Gang Task Force say these kids are susceptible to join gangs because they aren't getting enough attention at home and they just want to feel a part of something

It's not just boys joining these gangs; officials say they're finding more and more females getting involved as well.

"It's the same things as a guy, they do the same thing to get in, the same thing to prove their loyalty, to prove their down, they'll do just as much as a guy will do", explains Investigator Roosevelt Kearney, for the Albany Gang Task Force.

If these juvenile's are convicted of gang related crimes, their maximum sentence can be bumped from 30 days up to 5 years depending on the act.

What makes it hard to prosecute gang related crimes, is finding witnesses who are willing to talk.

"A lot of times it's because they're afraid, of what the gang members will do too them, because they are getting more violent", explains Ewings.

If a witness is being threatened, there are ways to protect them, such as obtaining a restraining order through the court system.

If you think you're witnessing a gang related crime, police urge you to call 911.