Mix-up in gang member number reports

Thursday, November 13th 2008, 7:05 pm
By: News 9

By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9

OKLAHOMA CITY - Wednesday, the gang problem in and around Oklahoma City was on the rise, and Thursday, it's reported that it is improving. Oklahoma City police said stats provided by one of their own was wrong when he depicted the gang problem getting worse.

It was during a conference on violent crimes that Officer Tim Hock painted an ugly picture of gang violence and gang members in Oklahoma City, but some in the police department said his depiction was excessive.

Shot multiple times in his own driveway Wednesday evening, 15-year-old Thomas Brandon was believed to have been a victim of a gang attack.

But whether these types of gang related crimes are going up or down depends on the source of the information.

In a violent crimes conference, Hock, a member of the department's gang unit, told the audience gangs are increasing, and was quoted saying, "These guys are becoming increasingly violent." Based on his stats he said it's possible there are as many as 7,000 gang members in Oklahoma City.

"That's incorrect," Oklahoma City Police Sgt. Paco Balderrama said.

Balderrama said Hocks' numbers are way off and the number of gang members is more like 3,800, but also admits his number might not be right.

"This is just a professional gestimate really because we haven't made contact with every single gang member, so, it's anticipated that the number may be a little bit higher than $3,800," Balderrama said.

Officer Hock also said his agency usually sees three officer-involved shootings a year, but he said that number is now up to 16, and four of them were a result of gangs.

"In 2006 we had six officer-involved shootings. In 2007 we had 10; so far this year we've had 11, none of which have been gang-motivated shootings."

It isn't exactly clear why there was so much confusion in the numbers.

Officer Hock is not speaking about his report.