Police reluctant to admit existence of gangs

By Maureen Kyle

(LOUISVILLE) -- Is there a gang problem here in Louisville? It depends on who you ask. One man says violent gangs are present in just about every neighborhood across the city. But metro police say there isn't a gang problem. WAVE 3's Maureen Kyle investigates.

WAVE 3 News has learned that there are dozens of teens involved in nine different groups across the metro, all allegedly into drugs and weapons.

"This particular group, Doom Squad, has had an ongoing battle with Bad News," said anti-violence advocate Dr. Eddie Woods, as he detailed their activities to teachers and metro council members.

Woods says the gangs he's talking about may not be as violent as other well-known gangs like the Bloods or Crips, but he says they're just as violent, and they're in every neighborhood and every high school in the city.

His goal is to stop growing violence among Louisville teens.

"I think there is a gang problem in this country right now," Woods, said. "Louisville is just a part of the gang presence."

One man watching the presentation made a comment on the minds of many. "It seems like the metro police department doesn't want to talk about gangs in Louisville."

So we took Woods list of gangs to LMPD Detective Juan Garrett, and he said he recognized all the names on the list.

Garrett works undercover, so he kept his face hidden. We asked him point-blank if there is gang activity in Louisville. "We have what I consider gang issues," he replied.

Garrett admitted that police do monitor neighborhood organizations, but he would not comment on any particular group. He wanted to know why Woods hasn't come to police with the information he found.

"A lot of these kids can be helped," Woods said. "But if we go in with the idea that we know who the culprits are and these kinds of things like that, and who to identify for certain issues related to crime, we miss the opportunity to help them."

Woods believes metro police don't name the gangs because giving them publicity gives the gangs validity.

Woods is also developing a group called Life Institute and Operation Hope, which he plans to use to help provide guidance to youth.

Online Reporter: Maureen Kyle

Online Producer: Michael Dever