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North Las Vegas Tries to Combat Gang Problem | Crime

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North Las Vegas Tries to Combat Gang Problem

LAS VEGAS -- The search is on for suspects who opened fire at a party hitting three people.

North Las Vegas Police say around 2 a.m. Thursday, rival gangs got into a fight that led to the shooting near Ann and Decatur. One of the victims is in critical condition and the other two are expected to be OK.

That shooting is raising questions about gang activity in the Las Vegas Valley.

Authorities say a gang is considered to be three people or more. In Clark County, there are 558 of them with more than 13,000 gang members.

In just the last year, there have been two gang related homicides in North Las Vegas. But those crimes don't even include the multiple gang shootings police deal with weekly in that city.

"There are kids that play every single day right here and whether it is at night or during the day, people still need to watch out," said North Las Vegas resident Tony Martin.

NLVPD Sgt. Tim Bedwell says gang activity is once again showing an upward trend. Instead of turf wars, the problem is now hybrid gangs -- gangs made up of people of different races and different areas of town.

In the last year, police say hybrid gang members have been behind two homicides, including the death of Metro officer Trevor Nettleton and 16-year-old Donald Troutman. But the North Las Vegas Police Department doesn't have a gang unit. Instead, they have problem solving units.

"There are people on both problem solving units that specifically tasked to only work gangs and they are the one that interface with the other agencies over the gang issues," said Bedwell.

Bedwell won't say how many detectives are dedicated to gangs, but says they work hand-in-hand with Metro Police, which is the hub of tracking all gang activity in the valley. They collect and share information through an intelligence database, which identifies gang members in the Las Vegas area.

"What we do is try to gather lots of puzzle pieces in advance and when something like this happens, they are available to us to look at and see how they fit," said Bedwell.

Bedwell feels they have enough resources to handle the gang problem for an agency their size, but residents would like to see more.

"Whatever it takes. Come and help us help ourselves," said Martin.

Because hybrid gangs aren't specific to one neighborhood, police say residents aren't afraid to report gang activity because they have no connection with the gang members. But, they also don't know who these individuals are, which could make it harder for police to identify a suspect.