County-Wide Gang Safety Zones Decreasing Criminal Activity

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Gang safety zones. Do they work? It's been two years since the Brazos County District Attorney's Office implemented the county-wide injunction aimed at restricting the behavior of local and violent gang members.

Being proactive while sweeping the streets clean of gang-related criminal activity has been an ongoing effort across Brazos County for years; but ever since the District Attorney's office gave the green light on the county-wide gang safety zone injunction -- authorities say arrests are up -- but criminal activity is down.

"It's decreased drastically from what it was three years ago," said Bryan Police Sergeant Steven Spillars.

The injunction targets the group of men, women and even juveniles who authorities believe are behind the crime.

"I would say there are six different gangs that are predominately active in the area," Spillars added.

Sergeant Steven Spillars says there are currently 39 gang-members from two of the six gangs who are listed under the injunction. Each member is required to abide by a number of rules within the gang-free zones. Inside the safety zone, which includes downtown Bryan, and a number of surrounding public parks; the defendants under the injunction are barred from using a cell phone inside their car, and cannot speak, walk, bike, or even drive with people known to be associated with gang-related criminal activity.

Thirty-three members have been arrested for violation of the injunction on top of a number of other charges; and the most recent arrest happened Monday night during a traffic stop. Jesse Reyes was a passenger in a vehicle; and according to the arrest report, was in violation after possessing his cell phone inside the car.

"They can't have their cell phone inside their vehicle with them," said Spillars. "The only way they can have a cell phone in a vehicle is if it's in the trunk, not accessible while they're in the passenger compartment."

Rules that might seem simple to follow; but according to police -- rules that are proving to be effective -- in more ways than one.

The injunction is in place for 10 years and violating it is a 'Class A' misdemeanor; which, according to authorities, is equivalent to being charged with burglary of a vehicle.