WICHITA, Kan. -- Gang activity is not limited to larger cities in Kansas such as Wichita. Smaller towns are not immune from gang influence.
Sargent Neff Torres of the Newton Police Department has been tracking gangs and their graffiti since the early 90's. Torres said some gang members have migrated to Newton from other cities or from the state's prisons. "Newton is not overrun by gangs", said Torres. "There's a small percentage of people that are involved in this, so we try to stay on top of who they are and what they do."
Torres said one way to keep the problem in check is the public's cooperation in watching their neighborhoods. "So when you see graffiti or when you see what you believe to be gang activity call it in and let us know," said Torres.
Torres said the quicker graffiti is removed the better. Joann Arrowsmith has a message for those who tagged her garage with gang graffiti. "Grown up and get a life.. really," said Arrowsmith.
Torres said student education programs against drugs and gangs start as early as elementary school. Torres talks to gang members to keep tensions down. "My ultimate goal is to put a stop to what they're doing but the contacts aren't always rivalry based," Torres said. He adds he has known members who have left the gang life. They find a new circle of friends or get help through faith based organizations.
By getting help from citizens and road patrol officers, Torres said the department is working to keep a lid on gang activity.