Updated:None — According to a report from the Governor's Crime Commission, the gang problem is alive and well in the Charlotte area.
The report says the number of gangs and gang members are both up, so even in a tough budget year it is critical that anti-gang efforts be funded.
Within the last year, the report said, the number of gang members in North Carolina has climbed from just over 10,000 to more than 13,000.
Police in Charlotte said there is no way to minimize the violence they bring with them.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Capt. John Diggs said, "I believe we have enough gang presence in this community to have a concern about them."
The examples are plentiful. This month, a student from East Mecklenburg High School was hit by a stray bullet fired by gang members fighting along Conference Drive.
Earlier this year, a half-dozen members of the notorious MS-13 gang were convicted of engaging in organized crime in the city.
Despite the evidence, those who work trying to keep kids out of gangs are worried that state and local budget shortfalls will shortchange gang prevention.
Fran Cook, of Gang of One, said, "We, as a community, need to be very careful about the money we take away at the front end. We may have to put in much larger amounts in the back end."
State Sen. Malcolm Graham said that even in a tight budget year, the state needs to find a way to make gang prevention a priority.
"The economy may be bad, but criminals don't take any time off," he said.
One thing police disagree with is the data suggesting there are 160 active gangs in Charlotte. They said that number is misleading because any group of more than three is counted as a separate gang.
CMPD said the real number is closer to 15-20 gangs, which they said is still plenty to be concerned about.