A decade ago, Dallas thought it had licked a serious gang problem. The Dallas Morning News says that many gang members are back on the streets, recruiting youths to the thug life. Gang-related incidents in the Dallas Independent School District have more than doubled, from 92 in 2000-2001 to 245 last school year. “We do have the older groups of harder gang core members out recruiting again,” said Lt. Tammy Ellzey, who led the Dallas Police Department’s gang unit for four years. “The schools themselves sometimes act as a magnet for gang activity.”
Gang members have assaulted teachers and brutally beaten weaker classmates. They enlist elementary school kids to hide their crack cocaine and guns during police searches. Last year, Dallas police reported an 83 percent increase in gang-related arrests. Police identified more than 5,000 gang members who belonged to dozens of “documented gangs” in 2004. The gang problem may be worse than what is indicated by the statistics. Dallas school officials don’t report gang-related incidents to the state unless a student is kicked out of school for at least one day. The Morning News offers a detailed look at how school gangs operate.