MIDLAND, Texas — Crimes in West Texas tend to have one common denominator: Gangs.
In Midland alone, there are about 150 gangs. Midland Police tell NewsWest 9 they have identified about 1,400 gang members in the community.
There is a specialized MPD gang unit that specializes in gang-related investigations.
“We have prison gangs, we have local gangs, we have Alamo motorcycle gangs...I mean we have all of them,” Sgt. Jason Claire, Midland Police Gang Unit, said.
While power and violence are associated with gangs, police tell us the biggest thing gangs want: money.
“It can be anywhere from burglaries, home or vehicles, robberies, anywhere they can make money," Claire said. "Whether it's narcotics distribution, oil field theft, anything they can make some type of money off of.”
So how does the gang unit go about getting these gangs off the streets?
“In the past and now, what we do is identify different members of the gangs and start federal or state investigations," Claire said. "Then we try to put as many people in jail as we can.”
The public can also help officer’s efforts by reporting any suspicious activity.
“If you see one group of activity that they think is gang-related, they need to call for sure," Claire said. "If another gang comes in there could be a battle on your hands.”
Midland Police encourage West Texans to call its non-emergency line at (432) 685-7108 to report any suspicious behavior.
While crime continues to go up, Midland Police are still very understaffed.
The gang unit would like to add a few more people but they can not do so until the patrol is fully staffed.
Right now, there are 31 police patrol openings.