Northern Va. Leaders Detail Plans to Fight Local Gang Activity

ANNANDALE, Va. — With the recent increase in gang-related crimes in the D.C. region, several local leaders mapped out their plans on how to combat that rise Wednesday night.

Earlier this month, two bodies were found in Holmes Run Park and Fairfax County police believe they are victims of gang-related killings.

Soon, county police will extend their patrols there, said Fairfax County Board of Supervisors Vice Chair Penny Gross of the Mason District, which includes the park. She spoke at the town hall-style meeting Wednesday night in Annandale, Virginia.

“It’s going to be a regular patrol responsibility, especially as the weather gets warmer, the days get longer and the bike patrol will be out longer,” she said.

Gross also plans a meeting in about a month with the director of the Fairfax County Park Authority and others to discuss more ways to help keep criminals out of the park.

Also speaking at the meeting was Jay Lanham, director of the Northern Virginia Regional Gang Task Force.

“Over the past several months, we’ve started picking up our enforcement, and I have put together an enforcement plan that we’re going to be rolling out here pretty soon,” he said.

A crowd that spilled into an overflow room turned out for the meeting in Annandale, Virginia, on Wednesday, March 29, 2017. (WTOP/Michelle Basch)

Lanham said one of their first steps will be to make gangs uncomfortable: “They shouldn’t be comfortable out here hanging around in your neighborhoods, doing what they want to do on a regular basis.”

He is also concerned about children from other countries who have come to the area without their parents, to live with relatives.

“There are a lot of unaccompanied minors being housed in Fairfax County and all through Northern Virginia. That is an issue because they are prime targets for the recruiting,” Lanham said. “These are kids that are vulnerable, and the gangs take advantage of those kids that are vulnerable to pull them into their activities.”

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