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Washtenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton Talks About Recent Gang Violence

Jul 27, 2015

Straight talk from the Washtenaw county sheriff.  In a letter to concerned citizens in light of recent gun violence, Washstenaw County Sheriff Jerry Clayton says “there is a gang problem” in part of the county. 

 I spoke with Jerry on Monday to get a clearer picture of the problems at hand and how the community can get involved in "Interrupting the Violence" here in Washtenaw County.

Listen to the full interview here: 

  

Credit Courtesy Washtenaw County Sheriff Department

Here is what the Sheriff's Office recommends what you can do:

 

  • If you see something, say something. Text in anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers: Text CSM Washtenaw and your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) or call 1-800-SPEAK UP.
  • Become an Interrupter. Join us as a volunteer to canvass the neighborhood passing out information and interrupting crime before it happens. If you're interested, call us at 734-973-4764.
  • Check your young person's social media pages. Look for signs of "Rakklife," "Finnesse Gang" or any other group affiliations and address it right away.
  • If you see your friend or loved one wearing clothes with Rakklife, Finesse Gang or any other group affiliations, talk to them about it and know that this is not just a group of boys hanging out and making music, but rather a gang that participates in violence. By allowing them to represent violence you are condoning violence.

Read the Sheriff's letter to the community: 

Last summer, 17-year-old Keon Washington was shot and killed at a house party because of a feud between rival youth groups who call themselves Rakklife and Finesse Gang. Since then the amount of violence and gang type behavior has continued to escalate. Last week another young man was killed, 20-year-old Keandre Duff. 

 From last year to current, the violence has escalated from mimicking gang culture by way of fist fights to shootouts and claiming territory this year. The violence must stop! The only way to do so is for all of us, as a community, to take a stance on a unified front.

Our kids are scared, and if we as adults, parents, aunts, grandparents, neighbors and law enforcement (don't) provide safety, they will find it themselves. They will be forced to choose sides and the gang will become their family. Every day we allow to go by without addressing this issue we make things worse.

Today and everyday moving forward, the message is very simple — anyone and everyone that decides to prey upon others in our community, that chooses to incite violence and engage in unlawful behavior will be identified, found and arrested. This type of unlawful behavior will not be tolerated.

If you have taken a path of lawlessness and terror, if you decide to act like a predator and prey on the defenseless, if you choose to carry guns and shoot innocent people, if you choose to break into homes, sell dope and engage in gang activity we will identify you. We will find you, we will arrest you, and we will put you in jail.

Law enforcement agencies, together with our state and federal partners have ramped up our efforts and share a single focus. We are all committed to eliminate the (rogue), criminal element here in Washtenaw County. To the predators in our county, if attention is what you were seeking, you now have ours.

To the good members of the community, we need you to stand strong with us. We cannot be entirely successful without your help and cooperation. We all have choices; to both sit by and wait for someone else to do it, or stand up and embrace the responsibilities we all have in making our neighborhoods a safer community.

Others may not say it and some may want to disagree, but I'll say it. We have a gang problem here in our county. We must acknowledge it in order to eradicate it and you have our commitment to do so.

 Interrupters rally against gun violence inYpsilanti neighborhoodsA newly formed group of community volunteers called the Interrupters gathered outside the Perry School in Ypsilanti before going out door to door in neighborhoods on July 25, 2015.

To that end and without divulging specifics, I am announcing that for the foreseeable future, the WCSO will enhance its collaborative efforts with our law enforcement partners; Ypsilanti Police Department and EMU PD by strategically increasing its investigative and patrol presence in all of eastern Washtenaw County, including the city of Ypsilanti.

Here is what you can do: If you see something, say something. Text in anonymous tips to Crime Stoppers: Text CSM Washtenaw and your tip to 274637 (CRIMES) or call 1-800-SPEAK UP.Become an Interrupter. Join us as a volunteer to canvass the neighborhood passing out information and interrupting crime before it happens. If you're interested, call us at 734-973-4764.Check your young person's social media pages. Look for signs of Rakklife, Finnesse Gang or any other group affiliations and address it right away.If you see your friend or loved one wearing clothes with Rakklife, Finesse Gang or any other group affiliations, talk to them about it and know that this is not just a group of boys hanging out and making music, but rather a gang that participates in violence. By allowing them to represent violence you are condoning violence.

Here is what we are doing: We are bringing the full extent of our resources into your neighborhood and any other neighborhood known to these gang members. Anyone causing harm will be identified, apprehended and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.You will see an increased presence of police in your neighborhood.On August 29th we will be holding another Gun-Return program so that anyone wanting to turn in their weapon can do so with no questions ask. Just drop off and go.Sincerely, Sheriff, Jerry L. Clayton Washtenaw County Sheriff's Office