Gainesville Daily Register

Local News

June 28, 2014

Officials: Texas Gang Threat Assessment misrepresents Gainesville

Austin —

The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) released in April an updated Texas Gang Threat Assessment report that  ranks Gainesville and Cooke County in the high risk category.
Gainesville Police Chief Kevin Phillips and Cooke County Sheriff Terry Gilbert disagree with the report’s findings.
“This is not what we’re seeing on the streets,” Phillips said. “If anything we are seeing a decrease in gang activity. The gang threat assessment report misrepresents Gainesville.”
This is the first year that the report places Cooke County in the high risk category and both Phillips and Gilbert question the reporting method.
Both local law enforcement agencies enter a gang member’s name into the state data base.
Phillips said that the name is entered into the data base whether or not the person lives in Cooke County or Gainesville.
“We enter non resident gang members to alert the home agency, so they are aware,” Phillips said. “This is a law enforcement tool. Just because we enter them in the data base does not mean a gang member lives here.”
Phillips said that less than one-quarter of a percent of the population of Gainesville is a gang member is a resident.
Sheriff Gilbert said that in the prison system inmates will align themselves with a gang to survive and when that becomes known they are entered into the Texas Gang Threat Assessment data base.
“There are more counties that do not report any kind of gang activity than there are that do,” Gilbert said. “This is voluntary reporting and we get a black eye.”
“The state is saying it is a big problem for us, Phillips said.
Phillips suggested that because of the amount of drug trafficking and gangs traveling the I-35 Corridor, Cooke County has been linked as a high risk county.

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