COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The fight against crime in Muscogee County is only heating up. The Muscogee County Sheriff’s Office’s Gang Task Force Unit has been operating for less than a year. However, it’s steadily working to make Columbus a safer place.
According to Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman there are 168 different gangs in Columbus alone and hundreds of gang members in the jail and out on the streets. A lifestyle often ending in one of two ways - death or prison.
“To be a real gang banger, there was something that we called ‘on sight’. So you had to be ready to do whatever,” says former gang member Norman Quarles. “It could be anything from playing a cruel prank to murder.”
Unless you’re like Quarles, a former gang member who eventually chose a different path.
“I knew it wasn’t right, but it filled a void at a certain time,” said Quarles.
He even published a book on his life hoping to steer other young boys away from gangs.
But for those who continue down that path, Muscogee County Sheriff Greg Countryman has dedicated an entire gang task force to getting violent criminals off the street.
“We actually go out and we actually make case profiles on a lot of the gang members,” said Countryman.
Countryman says in 2021, the Sheriff’s Office found that a lot of murders were the result of gang retaliation. They found gang activity for some start as young as seven years old. Quarles, not quite that young, joining at the age of 13 . “It was nothing to do and I had some stuff going on with my mom,” says Quarles. While there is no law in the state of Georgia that criminalizes being a gang member, Countryman says the gang activity is what can be prosecuted. Copyright 2022 WTVM. All rights reserved.