Nashville Police Chief Ronal Serpas unveiled a renewed effort to combat the area’s gang problem – including using recent civil injunction laws to disrupt gangs, reports The Tennessean. The announcement came a week after a gang shootout in a crowded commercial district during the lunch hour, followed the next day by a gang shooting in another area. A Tennessean series a month ago detailed a growing gang problem across Middle Tennessee, even in suburban communities and small towns.
The department will add six detectives and a sergeant to its gang unit, which currently has 14 officers. The new team will use civil injunction laws adopted last year that allow police to sue criminal gang members in civil court and seek injunctions to prevent them from engaging in gang activity. If gang members persist, they can be put in jail for contempt of court, Serpas said. Similar efforts have been successful in California, Minnesota, and Texas. Another new strategy will be drop-by visits to gang leaders at their homes. Gang officers and SWAT team members will engage them in dialogue and discuss alternatives to their gang activity.