DETROIT (WWJ) – Detroit Police Chief James Craig plans to bring back a version of the department’s Gang Squad.
Earlier this year, the department decided to eliminate their Tactical Mobile Unit and Gang Squad as part of a police restructuring plan that authorities said would put more officers on the street.
Craig isn’t offering many details about his plan at this point, but said the wheels are in motion.
“I’m looking to bring back a gang suppression unit really quickly,” Craig told the Detroit Free Press. “I’m not sure what form it’ll take right now, but we will have a unit in place soon.”
The move comes as the Detroit Crime Commission, a private organization that works with area law enforcement agencies, is launching a program with Detroit police to identify the scope of the city’s gang problem, according to the Associated Press.
Former FBI agent Andrew Arena, who currently heads the Detroit Crime Commission, said there are at least 2,500 confirmed gang members in Detroit. He said that roughly translates to one in every 28 Detroit residents as being connected to gang activity.
“That’s not counting all the girlfriends, little brothers and hangers-on,” Arena told the Detroit Free Press. “When I was with the FBI, I used to work organized crime, and you’d have 150 Gambino family soldiers; but for every main guy, you’d have 10 wannabes, which compounds the problem. It’s the same thing with gangs.”
Officials say details on the new program will be revealed soon.
The gang squad previously had been part of a mobile strike force credited with removing illegal guns and drugs from Detroit streets.
Residents often showed up at police commission meetings complaining about the squad, many claiming that the unit had brutalized innocent people in their neighborhood.