City aggressively targeting gangs with new program

San Antonio only the third city in Texas to implement state anti-gang initiative

SAN ANTONIO – City officials have decided to aggressively go after gangs, accepting funding from a state program that will aggressively target gang activity in the Alamo City.

The Texas Anti-Gang Initiative, known as TAG, will place dozens of investigators from a dozen agencies at a special center in San Antonio. The state is throwing in $2 million to get the program off the ground. The city will provide a dozen people to help staff the center.

Police Chief William McManus told the council that the threat of federal agents is enough to help stop gang members from committing crimes because punishments become more severe when those crimes escalate to the federal level.

“When you bring federal agencies into the mix, gang members (and) drug dealers ... start to get worried,” he said.

The cities of Houston and Richland Hills near Ft. Worth have implemented TAG. San Antonio becomes the state’s third municipality to move forward with the program.

The Governor’s office is making the program possible and will last for an initial 18 months.

District 7 City Councilman Cris Medina said he believes the collaboration will prove successful in San Antonio.

Corner Gate Christian Church pastor Oscar Dean believes that, too.

“We come together not just individually, but if we come together as whole, it takes more than just one -- it takes a village to raise children and the youth community,” he said.

But one of his parishioners, Jerrime Gardner, said it takes more than a building and staffers behind a desk to combat the problem.

Gardner said instead of being reactive, the city should be more proactive. The way it used to be, Gardner said, is that police officers walked the streets. He knew their name and they knew his.

“When you talk about allocating a certain amount of money, if it’s not going to programs that keep kids out of trouble -- sports programs, whether it be lunch programs, whether it be work programs -- that is what’s really needed in the community,” Gardner said.

Eventually, more than 120 people will work at the TAG center in San Antonio. School districts could become involved, too.

Agencies like the San Antonio Police Department, the Bexar County Sheriff’s Office, the District Attorney’s office, the FBI and DEA will be part of the program. After 18 months, the state will likely make more money available to keep TAG in operation.