Boyd Patterson, CAGE’s “gang czar” with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s office, approached Walker County sheriff Steve Wilson with the initiative’s concept several months ago.
“We know that the state line does not stop any criminal activity,” Wilson said, “We are seeing some influx of gang members into the northern end of the county. We feel as though they are using (northern Walker County) as a hiding place at times when they are being flushed out of Hamilton County and the Chattanooga area.”
The resolution will be signed by Walker County commissioner Bebe Heiskell and voted upon by Hamilton County commissioners next week.
The team also includes law enforcement personnel from the Bradley County Sheriff’s Office and the Chattanooga Police Department, so far.
“The only logistical detail that we needed to work out was for officers crossing over into another state,” Wilson said.
The county attorneys have drafted a mutual aid agreement to allow the multi-agency investigations.
“We will be better equipped and we will know the officers and who we are dealing with,” Wilson said.
Walker County deputies will be escorting Hamilton County deputies into Georgia during gang-related investigations, which will be reciprocated when Walker County deputies enter Tennessee.
Two Walker County deputies — Lebron Durham and Michael Hudgins — have been tasked to the CAGE unit, in addition to their roles serving as school resource officers.
There hasn’t been gang activity at the school, only occasional grudges, images of kids showing gang signs or wearing specific gang colors, according to Hudgins.
His concern is with Chattanooga area students who transfer to Walker County schools.
Durham is also the commander of the Walker County Sheriff’s Office’s street crimes unit, formed in 2010, which coordinates on illegal gambling and gang activities with the Fort Oglethorpe, Chickamauga and Ringgold police departments.
“We are beginning to see that we are dealing with some of the same (gang members) that Hamilton County and Chattanooga are dealing with,” Durham said.
On Aug. 28, 2010, a “Rollin’ 60’s Crips ” gang member, Marcus Eugene Sutton of Flintstone, was arrested inside Ridgeland High School’s football stadium for carrying a gun.
He was charged with terroristic threats and acts, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm on school property, and possession of a firearm or knife while trying to commit crimes.
His intent could not be verified; however information that Durham received pointed toward a motive of shooting a rival gang member over a female relationship.
Hudgins made the arrest after being notified of Sutton’s presence at the game. Felony warrants had been file for a Rossville shooting that Sutton committed the previous week.
Sutton created a spin-off gang with “Guddaville,” which had 34 members at one time, including a few in the Flintstone area, according to Durham.
A few of those gang members are currently in the Walker County jail, including Sutton, according to Durham.
One of those gang members committed armed robbery at a convenience store on James Street in Rossville, authorities say.
Establishing their own area to the east are the Gangster Disciples, which are known along Dewberry Street in the Fairview area, authorities say.
“We haven’t gotten to a point where guys are openly carrying bandanas or sneaking firearms into the school building,” Hudgins said.
Other gang members that the Walker Sheriff’s Office has encountered in the past few years include the Bloods, a hated rival of the Crips, and MS-13, a local Hispanic-based gang that is affiliated with a larger Dalton group of criminals.
There is also a motorcycle gang called the Black Angels from Kensington, which is affiliated with the nefarious Outlaws motorcycle gang, according to Durham.
Wilson has noticed a few recent crimes with “gang overtones” with some gang members that reside in the Rossville area.
Currently the deputies’ primary role will be to gather information on gang members and their activities in the area, according to Wilson.
“We’re trying to take a pro-active approach here by identifying who (gang members) are and sharing that to see if (Chattanooga area law enforcement) have active cases against them.” Wilson said, “hopefully working together to better suppress any activity, especially in the north Georgia area.”