KPD working to educate Knox Co. teachers to spot gang behavior

Oct. 6, 2016: Knoxville Police are working to arm teachers with the knowledge to spot gang activity in their schools.

Inside Bearden Middle School, teachers are getting the tools to spot dangerous behavior in their students.

In an hour-long presentation recently, KPD investigator Jim Quick outlined the dress, graffiti and tattoos parents and teachers need to look out for.

According to KPD's Gang Intelligence Unit, Knoxville has 33 active gangs, 1,500 gang members and 50 juvenile gang members.

"Instagram, Facebook and YouTube, all of that is where we find out information these days,” said Quick.

He says parents can head online to get a real look at what's going on in their child's life.

"If your kids have social media pages, kids may not like it, but you need to really be checking those out. Because I guarantee you if they're involved in this activity it's on their social media page,” explained Quick.

He believes these teachers could be the key to keeping kids from turning to a life in the streets.

"They're impressionable, whether it's this, drugs or anything else this is when they're likely to get into it,” said Quick.

For some, the presentation was a change in what they know about gang members.

"It seems that they can pretty much wear what they want and still have a way of identifying themselves amongst their gang members and rival gang members,” said Bearden Middle teacher Steven Jones.

"Whatever we may have learned earlier we may have to readjust to how things are happening now,” said Principal Sonya Winstead.

Winstead says in her 8 years the school hasn't had a gang related fight. One tool they have to keep the gang influence out is the dress code.

"We don't allow the pants rolled up and bandannas are not permitted, so we watch that very closely and try to stick with that and that keeps us all on the straight and narrow and focused on school,” said Winstead.

On top of staying aware teachers say giving students the attention they need and caring for them can stop them from making bad decisions.

"Regardless of the circumstance, if they can see what real and true, love is the greatest thing that we can give our children,” said Jones.

Here’s a link to gang resources right here in Knox County.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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