In is first six months, Cleveland’s Gang Impact Squad has confiscated 25 guns and arrested more than 300 people for drugs, guns, and violent crimes, reports the Cleveland Plain Dealer. Police officials credit the squad for using information about gangs to solve two high-profile killings. The police department used federal money to form the squad after Mayor Frank Jackson ordered police to target gun-toting criminals as a way to reduce homicides. Killings reached a 13-year high last year: 134.
The undercover officers target dope slingers and gun dealers. Every gang suspect questioned on the street is photographed. Officers use suspects’ tattoos to link them to the city’s 90 known gangs, said Sgt. Ron Ross, the unit’s street boss. Cleveland gangs are different from others across the U.S., he said. They don’t have an organized hierarchy like groups in New York City or Los Angeles. Many members have affiliations to different groups, and most are between 16 and 24 years old. “They terrorize the neighborhoods,” Ross said. “They do it at all hours of the day.”