Police deal with gangsgang (gång) n. 1. A group of criminals or hoodlums who band together for mutual protection and profit. 2. A group of adolescents who band together, especially a group of delinquents.
By: Celeste Beam, Alexandria Echo Press
gang (gång) n. 1. A group of criminals or hoodlums who band together for mutual protection and profit. 2. A group of adolescents who band together, especially a group of delinquents.
The above definitions come from The American Heritage Dictionary. But if you ask Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels what a gang is, the definition might be slightly different.
Wyffels noted that yes, Alexandria has a gang, but it’s not a gang in the traditional sense, like the nationally recognized Hell’s Angels or Gangster Disciples (GD) gangs.
“This is a local group of people – punk kids – who formed for the purpose of doing crimes against others,” said the chief.
Wyffels said the name of the group in Alexandria is OVR and that the letters do stand for something, but that many of the gang members don’t even know what it stands for. He couldn’t actually say for sure what the letters represent.
The community’s impression, according to Wyffels, is that since this group of what he kept referring to as “punk kids” formed, the town has “gone to hell in a hand basket.”
But the chief said it’s “simply not true.”
He said that many gangs form because of a “power thing,” “turf thing,” or “identity thing.”
“Yes, we do have violence and gang-related crime activity, but we are taking it very seriously,” the chief stated.
He added that if this group of kids, who range in age from about 20 to 25, with some variation, want to form a gang, then the police department will treat them like a gang and take an aggressive role to stop them.
“We have already thrown some in jail for their crimes,” he said. “We are holding them accountable.”
He stressed that the police department doesn’t take it lightly when citizens are being hurt or feeling threatened because of a gang.
Residents in the community shouldn’t panic, said the chief, but noted that they should be cognizant of their surroundings and make sure to lock their vehicles and their houses.
But he quickly added that those are “just good general safety tips.”
“People don’t have to sleep with one eye open,” Wyffels said, but added that if people see something suspicious, they shouldn’t hesitate to call the police department or the sheriff’s office.
“We’ll take every call seriously and we will try to help. We would rather be involved early,” he said.
Wyffels noted that the OVR gang, which is currently the only one the department is dealing with, has about 10 to 15 members.
“So, what can the community do?” asked the chief. “They can call us. We’re here to help.”
To contact law enforcement for non-emergencies, call the Alexandria Police Department at (320) 763-6631 or the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office at (320) 762-8151.