More than 300 law enforcement officers from across Oklahoma and the country are in Northwest Oklahoma City, Thursday, sharing how they are combating gangs and gang activity in their communities.
The officers are trying to keep young kids and adults from entering into the violent world of gangs.
"We have seen street gangs everywhere," said Jerry Flowers, a retired Oklahoma City Gang Unit. "Out of the 77 counties in Oklahoma, nearly every county has reported some gang presence in that particular county."
Flowers was the very first gang officer in the state. He spent 34 years as a gang investigator for Oklahoma City Police and has seen gangs evolve over the years.
"Do I have the answer to what can stop the gang problem? No, I don't," said Flowers. "If I did, I would absolutely put that out and we wouldn't have to have these kinds of conferences."
Flowers said what started as a problem with graffiti and petty crimes has evolved into violent serious crimes and is at epidemic proportions. But gang officers in OKC and beyond have done what they can to curtail that.
"I think some of the gang initiatives we have done, adding officers for the street gang initiatives during the summer and things like that, has definitely made an impact," said Hoch.
Gang investigators say at last check they had more than 4,700 confirmed gang members in the Oklahoma City area, 1,600 in Tulsa, and more than 2,400 in Lawton.
Sgt. Hoch with the Oklahoma City Police department says they saw more gang violence back in the early 2000's, but seems to have tapered off.
"We peaked back in 2005, 2006 with a large number of drive-bys in the metro ," said Sgt. Tim Hoch with the Oklahoma City Police Department. "And now we drove those numbers down to less than half of what it was."