DEKALB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - She has only been with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation for three weeks now and has already traveled all over the state investigating gangs.
"I've been in South Georgia and north Georgia working on cases that involved violent criminal street gang activity," said Jaret Usher, the head of the new GBI Gang Task Force. "So, it is across the board. It is in every county. It is in every jurisdiction."
Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Georgia, and GBI Director Vic Reynolds named Usher as the lead on that task force in mid-April. Kemp established the task force and set aside $500,000 to fund it in an effort to fulfill a campaign promise to crack down on gang activity in the state.
According to a July 2018 survey by the Georgia Gang Investigators Association, there are at least 71,000 criminal street gang members and associates in the state.
Usher comes to the job with a breadth of knowledge after prosecuting gang cases in her role as an Assistant District Attorney in Cobb County for the past six years.
"I hope to be able to use what I learned in Cobb – various tools of investigation, various ways of prosecution, as well – how to gather evidence and how to bring it into court where it withstands motions and those things and to get those convictions. So, we hope to be able to do that here with the GBI," Usher explained. "With the GBI we have the distinct ability to cross those county lines, to cross those city lines because gang members don't care if they're in Cobb, DeKalb, Gwinnett – they don't care. They just want to victimize people, intimidate the community and commit crime. So with the GBI, we're able to go past those jurisdictional lines just like gang members do."
Ultimately, the task force will include Usher and two investigators. She said they will work hand-in-hand with local and federal partners to gather evidence and prosecute offenders.
"It's exciting. I love the opportunity to be able to make a difference. I'm born and raised in Georgia. I'm from here. I want to make a difference here and I believe that this is the way to do it," Usher said.