by Ben Holder

Greensboro Mayor Nancy Vaughan recently emailed the city manager’s office and requested that the Greensboro Police Department reinstitute the gang unit. The gang unit was first started when former Greensboro Police Chief Tim Bellamy told the council that Greensboro’s gang problem warranted the creation of a gang unit.

Bellamy’s request was made after gang shootings in Greensboro left four people dead. The City Council at the time asked former City Manager Bob Morgan to pursue the idea of funding a Gang Unit. Before Bellamy’s request was made, the GPD had six officers that spent part of their time investigating gangs.

Bellamy’s request was granted in August of 2007 and the Greensboro Police Department formed a Gang Unit that would strictly deal with the investigation of gang activity. The unit included 20 officers.

However, after Bellamy’s retirement the city hired Ken Miller as the Chief of Police and one of the first things he did was discontinue Greensboro’s Gang Unit. Now, Vaughan is asking for the Gang Unit to be reinstated. In a recent interview, Vaughan was quick to point out that other council members want the Gang Unit back as well. Miller left Greensboro in 2014.

Greensboro Deputy Chief of Police Wayne Scott told YES! Weekly that the police systematically work gangs even though the gang unit was disbanded. Scott said the police investigate all crimes and when they encounter a gang member being involved in a crime there are procedures that are followed. Scott reported that the police have two detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division that work with other officers on crimes committed by gang members.

There are plenty of statistics from police reports that show Greensboro does have a problem with gang violence. One of the more infamous examples of Greensboro’s gang violence took place on October 29, 2013 near the campus of NC A&T.

Police reported that five to 10 gang members open fired on one another in the area of Bluford and Regan streets. Over 20 shots were fired and three people were injured. One person was injured by flying glass and another was in a car that was stuck by bullets. None of the injuries were life-threatening. Police arrested Elijah Dominique Jordan, Jeffery Bernard Sims II and Dionte Lashawn Ford.

Police charged Jordan with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury and one count of possession of a firearm by felon. Sims was charged with three counts of assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill and two counts of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury with intent to kill. Ford, who was also involved in the shooting, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill or inflicting serious injury. Those charges were brought due to Ford’s involvement in a shooting a shooting on Oct. 20, 2013. Ford allegedly shot a 19-year-old near Benbow Road and Cunningham Street.

Police reported that the shooting was part of an ongoing rivalry between two gangs. However, they did not identify the gangs. They did report that the gang dispute was between nationally affiliated gangs and local gangs.

In 2014, Greensboro had gang related drive by shootings occur at least once a month. Police report that drive by’s were executed in residential neighborhoods like Glenwood, Old Asheboro, Kings Forest, Jonesboro Scott Park and Arlington Park. One house in Glenwood was shot at more than 20 times in a 15-hour period. Over 20 9mm shell casings were recovered from the scene.

In September of 2014, Michael Thomas Vandross was shot and killed, and Kenneth Lamont Munn injured, in a shooting at Arbor Crest apartments. The police identified Munn as a gang member known as “Murder.” According to media reports from 1997, Munn was previously charged with killing a Greensboro music store owner. The charges were eventually dropped due to a lack of evidence.

Greensboro’s role in fighting gangs goes beyond the city limits, according to Scott. Many other cities in the Piedmont area have experienced gang issues as well.

For example, the Guilford County Sherriff’s Department and the Greensboro Police Department were asked to assist Law Enforcement Agencies in Alamance County a few months ago.

Burlington needed direction and man power help after several shootings took place. The Burlington Police Department and the Alamance County Sherriff’s Department requested the assistance because they feared gang members seeking retaliation could bring violence to the hospital.

Greensboro is also part of a Federal Task Force that is made up of other local agencies. The Task Force shares information and works together to reduce gang activity.

A little over a month ago, High Point police arrested 15 members of the “Bando Boys” gang. Police reported the gang is affiliated with the infamous Bloods gang. The Bando Boys were charged with several crimes for operating a heroin ring. According to Scott, the Greensboro Police worked closely with High Point police during the investigation.

The gang got local attention after several heroin overdoses were reported.

During the arrest of the Bando Boys, police seized more than 15 pounds of heroin, 29 pounds of marijuana, nine firearms, including an AK-47 assault rifle, $490,000 in cash as well as two 2012 Mercedes-Benz AMGs, a 2009 and 2014 Jaguar XJ, and a fully restored 1971 Chevrolet Chevelle Super Sport. !