In 1996 I was chosen to be the first School Resource Officer (SRO) at the then newly-built Eagle High School. From my experience in gang enforcement as a police officer in San Diego, I noticed a gang presence in the hallways of the High School.
I investigated and learned the gang was called the “Garden City HOGS.” HOGS stood for Henderson’s Original Gangsters. The gang leader was from Henderson, Nevada and moved to Garden City where he recruited others who slung dope, committed burglaries, batteries and intimidated many of the good students.
I tracked the gang and gave them a lot of attention. When summer came and school let out, I asked my Sgt. for permission to be a one-man gang unit. To the credit of Sheriff Killeen it was approved.
Ultimately, I wrote a proposal to form a gang unit and it was approved by Sheriff Killeen. My approach was three pronged: Education, Intervention and Suppression.
I also proposed to the juvenile judges (Hay and Veil) that Fourth Amendment waivers be added as a condition of probation for documented gang members. This too was adopted.
I developed a mobile training program for teachers, neighborhood groups, anyone who would listen. I advertised and hosted monthly presentations at the Sheriff’s Office for parents. I taught patrol deputies and I taught at the State Police Academy and BSU classes on gangs, trends, and officer safety.
The Sheriff Gang Unit worked very well with the Boise Police gang unit and units in Canyon County with great success tracking, documenting and arresting gang members.
I share this snapshot as one example of how my early law enforcement years spent in a larger and diverse area equipped me to see an emerging problem here and be proactive defending our quality of life with great success.