Hartford's "Infested" With Gangs: Cops

There are thousands of gangsters and hundreds are in middle school, report says

By Joe Piraneo
|  Friday, Oct 16, 2009  |  Updated 9:30 AM EDT
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A Hartford Police Internal report says gang violence is on the rise in the city.

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The streets of Hartford are infested with thousands of gang members, according to an internal memorandum circulating through the Hartford Police Department.  

What's even more disturbing is that hundreds of the “gangsters” are middle school students, playgrounds have a "prison yard atmosphere," and some of these pre-teens are affiliated with large national gangs, like the Crips, according to the report, obtained by the Hartford Courant.
 
The capital city has about 4,000 gangsters -- 800 are under the age of 17 -- and more than 138 street gangs, according to the report.
 
Lt. Luis Rodriguez wrote the report to justify applying for a $500,000 federal grant that would be used to match young people – maybe members of the Quirk Middle School gang, FFK (Funky Fresh Kidz) -- with adult mentors. 
 
Cops warn that while gangs might be a big problem in the city, not all gangs are equally menacing, something the report does not distinguish enough. Some are “formal” gangs that commit crimes and are linked to national gangs, while some “informal gangs,” were created for a sense of belonging.
 
"Ten guys on the block, let's all put on red jackets, and now we're a gang," Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts told the newspaper.
 
But still, the number is high, and some of the gangs – including at least one middle school gang -- are affiliated with the Bloods and Crips, the Courant reports.
 
The timing of the memo release comes during a week in which four people have been shot to death in five days in the city. Hartford now has 30 homicides this year, just two shy of last year's total.
 
You can read more on this report in the Hartford Courant.
 

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