It's up to the community to be the eyes and ears of the neighborhood. That's the message from Syracuse Police and neighborhood watch groups. Both met Tuesday to discuss warning signs of gang activity and how to best report it. As our Katie Gibas tells us, the communication is key to a safer Syracuse.
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- Syracuse Police Detective Tim Galanaugh sees the violence in the city every day. The majority of it is gang related. And it's on the rise.
"The status and the protection that they get as being part of the gang and feeling like they belong to something. And these kids are dying on the streets to be a part of a gang to be a part of something bigger than themselves. And they're not getting that in their family. They're not getting that in schools. It's unfortunate," said Galanaugh.
That's why many of Syracuse's 90 neighborhood watch groups met with law enforcement officials to discuss the warning signs of criminal activity, focusing on recognizing gang symbols and behaviors and the best ways to report it.
"You've got a gang that wants to disrupt neighborhoods, and you've got neighbors living in neighborhoods that want to live in a neighborhood comfortably. And I guess the stronger willed group of people will win out. And what we attempt to do here with the different neighborhood watch groups is to get them to team up the with the Syracuse Police Department and simply out-number the criminal element," said Jim Crosby, the Syracuse Neighborhood Watch Coordinator.
Syracuse police are trying to raise awareness about the issue of gang violence in the city. And they say the community's help is crucial to make neighborhoods safer.
"Without the community and without people who are going to take a stand and call and report these things, we wouldn't solve any crime. The criminals aren't going to talk to us about it until after they've committed the crime. So it's better for the community to band together and this is the first step in doing that," said Galanaugh.
Both police and community activists say they hope increased awareness will lead to more people stepping up to protect their neighborhoods with watch groups.
If you'd like to become more involved with your neighborhood watch group in Syracuse, you can call (315) 448-8762
For more information on how to recognize gang activity: