MPD blames recent violent crime increase on gangs; 44 known gang members arrested in the past few months

Published: Jun. 30, 2022 at 4:24 PM CDT
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MOBILE, Ala. (WALA) - With shootings, murders and other violent crimes are surging in the last few years. Mobile Police investigators are noticing a trend. Some of the problems stem from gangs plaguing the Port City.

“I think what we have is, I’ve always said we have gang activity here in Mobile and the violent crime that we’re seeing right now we do believe is being driven by gang activity,” said Mobile Public Safety Director Lawrence Battiste.

Battiste says gangs operate differently here. In most places they will run in specific areas, but Battiste says gangs in Mobile are more about relationships. MPD says more shootings in Mobile are starting to look like gang retaliation.

“We believe that some of it is retaliatory and that’s the reason why we have put the focus on trying to make sure we get those individuals off the street,” he said.

Of the 44 known gang members arrested recently, 13 are out on bond.

The focus on gangs is a part of MPDs ‘Operation Echo Stop.’ The program also includes new technology, like ShotSpotter to help police fight crime. The gunshot detection system just finished being installed and soon it will be operational.

“We’ve missed opportunities along the way to detect certain crimes specific to gun violence and so having another layer that’s going to alert us to things that are happening in real-time is definitely going to prove beneficial,” said Commander Kevin Levy, Director of Intelligence for the Mobile Police Department and Gulf Coast Technology Center.

Mobile Police are hoping the new tech along with community-based efforts will make a difference, save lives and make the city safer.

“Operation Echo Stop is really not about what Mobile Police Department is doing it’s really about how MPD is serving as a catalyst to try to mobilize our entire community,” Battiste said.

Another top mission of Operation Echo Stop is getting guns off the street.

In the past three months, they have been able to recover 14 firearms.

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