St. Paul police gang investigators had been tracking violence involving a group called the 18th Street gang for more than a year when new information deepened their resolve: 11 girls were to be “jumped in” to the gang April 18. They executed 17 search warrants on homes of people associated with the gang, but police decided to take a different approach from arresting them all, Paul Iovino, who heads the gang unit, tells the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Instead, police invited the teens and young adults, along with their families, to an informational meeting at the Neighborhood House, a West Side social services agency.
“The message was, ‘Parents, your kids are involved in gang activity, and it’s not acceptable and won’t be condoned in the city of St. Paul,’ ” Iovino said. Various community organizations were on hand to talk about resources for getting the young people out of gang life, he said. As for the girls who were supposed to be initiated into the gang, Iovino said, “To the best of our knowledge, we think we did thwart it.”