(Editor’s note: This is Part I of a continuing series.)

Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds warns that Georgia, like the entire nation, is in a crisis as a result of criminal street gang activity. He repeats what the Georgia General Assembly said in 2010 with its enactment of Georgia Code 16-15-1. It boldly states: “Georgia is in a state of crisis … caused by violent criminal street gangs whose members threaten, terrorize and commit a multitude of crimes against the peaceful citizens… These activities, both individually and collectively, present a clear and present danger to public order and safety.”

Exact numbers and statistics on street gang membership are hard to come by in most Georgia cities and counties. However, the statistics in state and national reports are staggering. And they are on the rise.

The FBI’s 2011 National Gang Threat Assessment Survey states there are approximately 1.4 million gang members nationwide — an increase of 400,000 from two years earlier. The report found nearly 33,000 gangs are responsible for an average of 48 percent of the violent crimes in most jurisdictions, and up to 90 percent in several others. 

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