Richland County, South Carolina is being overrun by thugs and pistol-packing gang members (estimated some 800 strong). Since July 29th, four gang members have been killed in shootings, and the county’s Sheriff Leon Lott is declaring war on gangs.
Lott is fed up with shooting victims who won’t assist law enforcement officers, gang members who try to dish out street justice themselves, and armed thugs who open fire in broad daylight.
According to The State, “There are just a bunch of punks out there with guns not caring who they shoot,” Lott said. Motives for such shootings include gang members feeling disrespected or believing another gang member “snitched” on them, he said.
In which case, Lott’s rather unique approach to solving the problem may run into some snags. As reported by WISTV, Lott is putting up posters and flyers in gang-infested neighborhoods encouraging the thugs to rat each other out.
The first flyer is intended for gang members directly.“Having a problem with a fellow gang member or rival? Instead of retaliating and getting yourself locked up, why don’t you just take them off the streets in a more self-serving way,” the flyer reads. The flyer then asks folks to write down the name of the offending gang member and turn it in to deputies.
The tactic is exactly the same with the second flyer. Lott is hoping to get competing drug dealers to turn each other in.
“Much like the stock market, drug dealing is a hard business to keep up,” the flyer reads. “Fortunately, you’re in the business where there are no rules, so wouldn’t it be nice to be the only dealer in town?”
From the perspective of a former law enforcement officer, I wish Sheriff Lott all the luck in the world, but I fear the flyers will simply be used for target practice or rolling joints by the thugs roaming his cities streets. His idea of allowing the police to be used by gang members to harass each other, while unique, is doomed to failure.
IF contact with the criminal justice system actually meant some inconvenience to the criminals, it would be a different story, but cops aren’t the only ones who know the justice system — as a deterrence to criminal behavior — doesn’t work. It simply moves the criminal gang members from one piece of turf to another.
As was demonstrated in Ferguson and Baltimore, the only thing gang members hate more than each other is the cops. The Bloods and Crips would rather link arms to “protect the neighborhood” than pick up the phone and rat out a rival gang member to The Man.
The sheriff is trying to encourage drug-dealing bums to make rational business decisions, which shows he really hasn’t been able to get inside the blown mind of drug dealers.
As one former gang member told me, “I understand the officer’s approach, seems like he’s at wit’s end. But this goes back to the culture issue I was talking to you about. It’s certainly not in the culture to tell on anybody, whether it be to the cops or even to other people. I wouldn’t hold my breath that this would help anything.”
[Note: This article was written by former LEO, Ashley Edwardson]