BOONE COUNTY (WIFR) -- In Boone County, there’s been a dramatic shift in gang activity as a relatively new gang task force is working to clean up the streets and make a difference in the community.
According to the Boone County State’s Attorney Michelle Courier, from 2008 to 2011, graffiti, a crime most commonly associated with gangs, has dropped 49 percent in Boone County. She credits the collaboration between her office and the police department for the drop in gang related crime, including shootings, graffiti, and other forms of vandalism. Officials emphasize, gang activity affects the whole community. As an example, 2 out of 3 drive by shootings don't hit the intended target, so it is important for residents to pay attention to what’s going on in their neighborhoods.
“The strength comes in the partnership between the State's Attorney's office, the police department and the public,” says Belvidere Police Chief Jan Noble. “Never underestimate what you see or hear. Call the police, even if you feel it's not important. Let us decide, let us respond, and let us investigate."
Officials say the best thing parents can do is remain involved in their children's lives, and before letting kids leave the house, make sure you know where they're going, who they'll be with, and when they'll be back home.
State's Attorney Courier says Illinois ranks number one in the nation for gang membership.