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Friday, October 10, 2008

Anti-gang squad shows an impact; 300 arrests, 25 guns taken

Six months after a Gang Impact Squad was formed to combat violence in Cleveland, the unit has arrested scores of violent criminals.

The seven-officer squad has confiscated 25 guns and arrested more than 300 people for drugs, guns and violent crimes. More than 250 of them have been identified by police as gang members.

Police officials credit the squad for using information about gangs to solve two high-profile killings. Officers arrested a man in March after he was accused of gunning down a 19-year-old Bay Village man on the West Side. In July, officers arrested a gang member for torching and killing a 25-year-old man on the East Side.

Much of the violent crime in Cleveland is related to guns, drugs and gangs, Police Chief Michael McGrath said. He added that the gang squad unit has obtained information for major federal investigations.

"It is working its way up the ladder," McGrath said. "It's having an impact."

The Police Department used federal money to form the squad after Mayor Frank Jackson ordered police to target gun-toting criminals as a way to reduce homicides. Killings reached a 13-year high last year, with 134 people slain in Cleveland. [Mark Godsey]

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