Though the overall crime rate in Carson City has gone down over the past three years, crimes committed by documented gang members have nearly tripled, said Sheriff Ken Furlong on Thursday.
Citing internal statistics kept by his department, Furlong said Thursday that in 2007, deputies booked 2,596 people into the Carson City Jail. Of those, 337 were documented gang members.
In 2005, 2,869 arrests were made, but only 115 of those arrested were documented gang members. Furlong said that in 2006, 2,820 people were arrested and 207 of those were gang members, he said.
"Generally speaking, this community is getting safer and safer and safer, in fact, way safe, and the gang activity is skyrocketing," Furlong said. "If we didn't have gang activity, imagine how safe this town would be."
There also was an increase last year in the number of citations issued to documented gang members in a number of crime areas, including jaywalking and speeding.
In 2006, 20 citations were written to gang members. In 2007, 105 citations were written. Numbers for 2005 were not tallied.
With this increase in gang-related crime and activity, the jail has also seen an 87 percent increase in the number of violations inmates are receiving, Furlong said.
In 2005, 180 violations were noted. In 2007, 337 violations were recorded.
"Violent crime is going down, but what we see inside the jail has increased. There's more fights," he said.
"The reality is that we keep fewer people in jail that don't need to be there, and we keep in more people that do need to be in jail. In other words, if you get a DUI, you could probably get out of there, but if gang banger so-and-so gets put in jail, he's going to stay in jail. Those people that are in custody are truly threats to our society."
John Simms, director of juvenile probation, said his department has 136 documented gang members.
Simms said gangs in the city are becoming more sophisticated. More violent crimes being committed by children.
"Carson Valley has always had gangs - at least in the last 10 to 15 years. I don't necessarily believe there's more of them, I just think they are more efficient in what they do. We are seeing more organized-type crime. We have real dangerous kids." he said. "Most of the offenses we have regarding gang members are like batteries and property crimes. Not a lot of drugs, although that is an element."
Contact reporter F.T. Norton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1213.
Carson city Arrests
Year Arrests Gang arrests
2007 2,596 337
2006 2,820 207
2005 2,869 115
Source: Carson City Sheriff Ken Furlong