DANVILLE, Va. - When a person is booked into the Danville City Jail, Sheriff Mike Mondul says they're not simply placed in a cell.
"We have what we call objective jail classification, where we figure out things like, do they have mental illness, are they a known gang member, this kind of thing. That can be from either something they tell us, something we find in our system, something we find in the national NCIC computer," Mondul explained.
According to Danville Police Chief Philip Broadfoot, gang activity in Danville has increased over the past 14 years since the department's first organized effort to gather information about gangs.
He estimates that there are about 250 gang members currently in Danville.
"Over the course of time, we would arrest individual members of these gangs. They would go to prison and they became indoctrinated in the national gang organization and brought that philosophy and that knowledge back to Danville," Broadfoot explained.
Mondul says there has also recently been a spike in gang activity in the jail, but whether that is increasing the gang activity on the street or visa versa isn't clear.
That's one of the reasons why deputies make a point to communicate with surrounding law enforcement agencies.
"Our jail administration meets regularly with detectives at the police department, to share information and gather intelligence," Mondul said. "Information is the name of the game when it comes to gangs."
Despite the increasing gang activity, Broadfoot emphasizes that only five of last year's record 16 homicides were gang related and violent crime overall makes up less than 10 percent of the crime in the city.
As of Monday, there had been 12 homicides in the city in 2017.
Broadfoot said a few were definitely not gang-related, but the rest are still under investigation.
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