OMAHA (KPTM) – "Our gang members are some of the smartest, most intelligent kids we have," said President of Midwest Gang Investigators Association Bruce Ferrell, Omaha.
"They are just channeling that in the wrong direction."
Ferrell works to get kids out of street gangs, and educates local and federal agencies about the gang culture.
"They all basically have a culture of violence," he said, explaining that much of the violence boils down to respect.
"They want to show that they are capable of violence," said Ferrell, adding that the gang members hope they create a sense of fear and intimidation.
Ferrell tells FOX 42 News he has seen gang members as young as 10-years old, adding that gang members can be "stone cold killers" or parents and grandparents that are raising families.
No matter what their age, he said they can be dangerous.
"The fact that they're willing to walk around armed most of the time gives that sense of them being dangerous in the community. We have long-standing rivalries between different groups. With guns and gun violence, they are all dangerous," he said.
Ferrell was a Gang Unit officer in the Omaha Police Department's first Gang Unit back in 1988. He has been working with gangs on and off for about 20-years.
Ferrell tells us there are about 70 different cliques in Omaha alone.
He said there is evidence when it comes to deciphering whether or not a crime is gang-related. Things like graffiti, flashing gang signs, wearing certain colors or tattoos.
"I think they assume we're always watching them," he said. "We will eventually arrest them and they will eventually go back to prison. It may take time, but we keep working at it. We're always diligent and we wait for their mistakes. Then they pay the price."
For more information on how you can help or learn more about gangs in the community, click here.