Gang Violence Explodes in Small-Town Tennessee

Jul 9, 2012

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WMOT) — Gang-related crimes rose by nearly 25 percent across Tennessee in 2011.

Citing statistics from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation, The Tennessean reports that such crimes have more than doubled since 2005. But the real story isn't necessarily in places like Nashville or Memphis.

Statistics show the state's small towns are becoming incubators of gang violence. The TBI’s Kristin Helm says there’s a couple of reasons for the change.

“One, gangs can go more undetected in more rural areas where maybe there aren’t sophisticated gang units set up within police departments like there is in Metro, and Memphis – places like that. The other thing is that many times they have less competition for whatever type of criminal activity they’re involved in.”

The TBI says that since 2005, Tennessee towns with fewer than 50,000 residents saw gang crime more than triple.