County gang prevention unit working to stop retaliation crimes

As Madison police still search for answers after three gang related weekend shootings, MPD’s Dane County partners are working in tandem to prevent revenge crimes.

The supervisor of the three dedicated gang intervention team, or GRIT members, working under the county’s Human Service’s Neighborhood Intervention Program, said his team has been urgently working since the weekend shootings to stop a retaliation.

“Boots on the ground. Getting out there. Talking to kids. Working through issues they may have,” Juvenile Justice Services Manager Andrea Johnson said. “We’ve helped do mediations in the past with law enforcement. We’ve gone to school and talked with kids. We’ve talked to them and their parents. Anything we can do to try and prevent future incidents.”

Police think all three shootings, one at the West Towne Mall, another along Russett Road and a third shooting along Chelsea Street, are gang related and possibly linked.

Dane County’s neighborhood intervention team monitors 600-700 at-risk 10 to 17  years olds under court supervision. Johnson said at any time 50-60 of the young people are known gang members or associates.

“We know some of the people that were involved in some of the incidents over the weekend,” Johnson said. “And more of our thing may be who’s connected with those people. So if there’s fellow gang members that are out there, that may be upset by what took place, we want to talk to them. Want to talk to their parents.”

Johnson said the neighborhood intervention program has been working urgently this week to give those who might want to take the law into their own hands alternatives to that thought process.