SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - It's said that the first step in solving a problem is admitting you have one in the first place. Last week we broadcast a WTOC Investigation called "Gangland Rising" that documented decades of denials, deceit and downright lies when it comes to our area's gang problems.
As early as 1992 our state legislature declared Georgia as a state of crisis when it comes to gang violence, passing powerful laws to help communities combat it. Despite the help being offered by the state, as well federal agencies, our police and community leaders not only refused the help but also refused to acknowledge the existence of gangs in our communities.
Maybe they did this because when you talk gangs in Savannah it brings up chilling reminders of the murderous spree of the Ricky Givens Gang, maybe they didn't want to face facts because they thought they were protecting us, or protecting our community's booming tourism business, or worse yet, protecting their jobs.
Whatever the reason, their actions actually endangered us as it allowed our gang problems to grow unfettered for years.
Consider this: gang violence in our neighborhoods is very real. You need to look no further than on the freshly planted headstones in our cemetery for proof.
Police say that as much as 60 percent of our current crime is gang related. So it is as simple as this: You want to stop crime, you need to stop the gangs.
The good news is we now have people in charge who are readily admitting we have a problem.