Last year, in an article titled 'The changing urban self-defense environment', I pointed out (amongst many other points) that:
- One is now more likely to be confronted with crime, whether at home, in the shopping mall, in parking areas, or at large gatherings;
- One is more likely to have to defend oneself and/or one's loved ones against danger from multiple directions and multiple attackers;
- The crime is more likely to be violent, with little or no verbal or other warning before escalating to blows or the use of weapons.
There's much more at the link. If you haven't read that earlier article, I suggest you do so before continuing with this one.
In the light of that article, I wasn't surprised to read this report at PoliceOne.
Gangrelated crimes rose nearly 25 percent across Tennessee in 2011, but much of the illegal activity is happening away from big cities.
. . .
Since 2005, cities with fewer than 50,000 residents saw gang crime more than triple.
Gangs are becoming problems in places like Springfield, a town of about 16,000 people 30 miles north of Nashville.
In the past two months in Springfield, three suspected gang members were arrested in the armed holdup of a bank, and a 20-year-old man was found dead with a bullet wound to the back of his head near a youth center.
"By and large, the average citizen, I don't think, sees or knows what's really going on," said Springfield police Chief David Thompson.
"There's a lot of people that are just in denial or unaware. If it doesn't impact them directly, they wouldn't know about it. We've reached a space now where you can't ignore what's happening."
But rural towns often have small and sometimes ill-equipped police departments, which can make the communities vulnerable and attractive to young criminals trying to dodge larger cities with more sophisticated gang units. Also, gangs find rural areas to be full of eager, new drug customers and devoid of competition from other gangs. For a while, at least. The FBI's annual National Gang Threat Assessment in 2011 was blunt in its appraisal of gangs' interest in these untapped areas.
"Gang members are migrating from urban areas to suburban and rural communities to recruit new members, expand their drug distribution territories, form new alliances, and collaborate with rival gangs and criminal organizations for profit and influence," the report said.
Again, more at the link. If you're at all interested in your security, I highly recommend clicking over to PoliceOne and reading the whole thing, as well as the 2011 FBI National Gang Threat Assessment.
Don't think this problem is confined to Tennessee - it's not. The same trend is visible in almost every state, as gangs try to get out from under the increased surveillance directed at them in larger cities. Another factor is the spread of drugs and drug money from Mexican cartels to local gangs, which are increasingly acting as distributors. They've got enough money backing them to spread their nets wider now.
Forewarned is forearmed, friends. I can only suggest that each of you carefully examine your family's residential, work, commuting, education, shopping and entertainment environments, and take appropriate precautions to ensure your safety as best you can.