ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOX)Recent reports reveal the face of street gangs in the United States is changing.
It’s getting younger.
“What we’ve noticed the major recruiting grounds for the City of St. Louis are actually the middle schools and the high schools,” explains Captain Ronnie Robinson, Commander of Special Operations for the St. Louis City Police Department.
Robinson tells KMOX many young people who come from terrible situations are drawn into gangs by the promise of quick money…
“The guys who have been involved in gang activity for a while as far as illegal narcotics sales, they lure these kids to be their workforce for them.”
Robinson says gangs force recruits to prove their loyalty by stealing cars for joyrides or by starting fights before they move into more serious crimes.
He also points out the organization of gangs is shifting with the influx of younger members. “We see a lot of different young guys having their own little cliques. The structure is not as organized as it was ten years ago.”
Robinson says that makes it a greater challenge for officers to keep track of their movements and their turf. He adds that gang activity is spread across the metro region.
He says the department is combating the problem in the city by posting officers at schools and in key neighborhoods, making sure officers have consistent contact with at-risk kids, while also keeping track of changing gang movement and territory.