The number of federal, state and local law enforcement agents attending the South Carolina Gang Investigators Association Conference is up this year. That's a good sign because it shows increased awareness in North and South Carolina communities dealing with gang problems, Myrtle Beach Police Chief Warren Gall said.
"The gang problem is like the drug problem. It's across municipal boundaries. It's across state lines, so we have to have a network to which we can communicate with each other so we can get a handle on what's going on," Gall added.
Agents are introduced to new trends in training and hear from a panel of speakers with a wide range of experience or one specific area of expertise to gang related issues.
At this point, Gall couldn't say if gang violence was better or worse. "I think the issue is that we're now uncovering and exposing more of what's going on out there. It's been going on for a long time. We just weren't aware of it and didn't know how to address it and, now, because of the expertise these officers are developing, they're uncovering a lot more going on in our communities."
This year's conference focuses on Mexican Mafia gangs, which is a growing problem in the Carolinas, female gangs, gang recognition, interviewing by observing body language and prosecuting gang cases through a state Grand Jury.
The annual conference runs Monday through Wednesday at the Marriott Resort and Spa in Myrtle Beach.