Groups taught about recognizing gangs |

Groups taught about recognizing gangs

Patrick Parkinson, Of the Record staff

Showing teachers, business owners and civic groups photographs of gang apparel, artwork, colors and hand signs can help citizens become aware of gang activity in their neighborhoods.

When Summit County Sheriff’s Office deputies about 18 months ago noticed an uptick in graffiti and encounters with gang members, Detective Andrew Burton began meeting with the groups.

"We’re hoping to insert an element of intervention," Burton said.

Burton has led more than 20 such gang discussions in Summit County in the past 15 months. The presentations usually last about two hours.

"Gang members are coming to our county," Burton said.

A documented gang member stopped last year by a deputy on State Road 224 was one of the 15 most wanted fugitives by the Utah Department of Corrections, Burton said.

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"He was convicted and served time in prison for shooting another gang member, and he was apprehended in Summit County after leaving a bar in Park City," Burton said.

In a separate case in September 2008, a gang member who fled after firing several shots at somebody in Evanston, Wyo., was apprehended on Interstate 80 in Summit County, he added.

Gang members stopped in Summit County have been mostly Latinos and members of rival sets of the Sorrenos or Nortenos gang syndicates, Burton said.

"A lot of gangs have written organization, structure and rules," he said. "We have documented Crips and Bloods from different Crip and Blood sets."

White people comprise about 20 percent of the gang members documented in Summit County, Burton said.

The rest are mostly members of a mix of Asian, black, Polynesian and Native American gangs, he said.

"The real solution to gang prevention is intervention and you do that in families and in the schools," Burton said.

Contact the Summit County Sheriff’s Office at (435) 615-3500 for information about scheduling a presentation about gangs for a group in the community.